London 2012: Kirani James wins Grenada’s first ever gold medal in 400 meters
A jubilant Kirani James of Grenada after winning the 400m gold. PHOTO/Getty Images
The day after Kirani James traded nametags with double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, he picked up an even more valuable piece of Olympic history: the first medal for his tiny country of Grenada.
Pretty nice color, too. Gold.
The 19-year-old Kirani James emerged as the accidental world champion last year and backed up that win with another one on the biggest stage Monday night, running the 400 meters in 43.94 seconds.
With that, the celebration was on, because James had no doubt that back home in the small fishing community of Gouyave the people were partying.
“Probably crazy at home,” said James, a two-time NCAA champion at Alabama. “I don’t think any words can describe the celebration out there. This is a huge step … going out there and putting us on the map.”
Not only his country, but himself, too, by ending the Americans’ impressive string of wins in the 400.
Before this race, an Olympic gold medal in the event was almost a lock for the U.S., which had won the past seven titles, dating to 1984. But none of the three American entrants qualified for Monday’s final, including 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt, who pulled up with a hamstring injury in his opening heat and was sent home for treatment.