The Caribbean island nation of Grenada was celebrating on Monday as 19-year-old Kirani James stormed to gold in the men’s 400m to win the country’s first-ever Olympic medal.
The reigning world champion dominated the race from start to finish to win in a new national record of 43.94 seconds – becoming the second-youngest winner of the Olympic 400m title and only the ninth man to ever run under 44 seconds.
Grenada – which has a population of just 110,000 – first competed in the Games in 1984 and James was overjoyed to have delivered the country’s first Olympic medal.
"I am just so proud,” he said. “This is not just for me, this is for my whole country. The whole place is going crazy right now. I am so excited. Everyone in Grenada will be proud. This is a great feeling. Nothing can describe what I am feeling."
Having won the 400m at last year’s world championships in Daegu, South Korea, James was expected to do well in London, but was determined not to let the pressure affect his desire to win a medal for Grenada.
"I didn't try and think about it at the race,” he said. “It's a feeling that I can't describe. I'm just happy to represent my family. They're probably having a street party, everyone's having a good time. My parents are at home celebrating in Grenada."
The Grenadian government declared Tuesday afternoon a public holiday in celebration of James’s achievement.