Nineteen year old Kirani James is now a Grenadian athletic superstar. At the London 2012 Olympics, he won Grenadaâ€™s first ever Olympic gold medal. His brilliant performance of 43.94 seconds in 400m made him the first athlete from outside the USA to break the 44-second barrier and, more. He exalted, his home country with a population of 110,000 would be celebrating in the streets.
James who is also the world champion agreed with his coach that this felt like the kind of breakthrough performance that they were aspiring towards. His coach, Harvey Glance, envisioned this happening and often referred to James as is ˜a freak of nature’ who was capable of beating the world record (43.18secs) held by the USA’s Michael Johnson. Glance said, “Kirani’s only going to get faster and stronger.
He really wants to put his country on the map. We want to rewrite history.” James’ progress to world domination in the 400m will be challenged by the Dominican Republic’s Luguelin Santos who is a year younger. Santos finished second for the, silver medal in 44.46sec. James confidently states, “When you are young you don’t have anything to lose but you have so much to gain.”
In addition to mastering the 400m, James is also a very good 200m sprinter who has set all manner of records in the 200m as a youth. This had incited others to speculate the possibility of him returning to that distance to match up with Bolt. “That’s for the future,” he said. “Right now I’m concentrating on the 400m.”
The last man to run sub-44sec was 2008 Olympic champion, LaShawn Merritt of the USA. Merritt finished second to James at the world championships, after coming back from a two-year ban for a positive drugs test. Merritt pulled a hamstring during the heats and dropped out.
James is the new champion of the 400m and he is worth celebrating. After the semi-final James made a point of swapping his name-tag with South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee, a gracious act that won him a lot of admirers. “Oscar,” he explained, “should be a huge inspiration for everybody, whether they are an athlete or not.”
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