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Grenadians optimistic of public holiday to celebrate Kirani gold medal

Published: 
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Grenadian national Shaneil McMeo waves her national flag as she celebrates among the crowd gathered on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port-of-Spain to watch the Men’s 400M final at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, in which her compatriot Kirani James won the gold medal. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

Ecstactic Grenadians are now hopeful their government will announce an official holiday commemorating the country’s first Olympic medal. Son of the soil Kirani James, 19, won gold in the men’s 400 metres final in the 2012 London Olympics yesterday afternoon. “We are waiting for an announcement from the Government as to when the holiday will be,” Cecil Greenidge, recently retired co-ordinator of Grenada’s Youth and Sports Programme said yesterday evening. In the tiny fishing village of Gouyave, James’ fisherman father, family and neighbours are celebrating, he said. “There is jumping up in his hometown in Gouyave. People are ecstatic, there’s music.” Greenidge said James grew up very poor and after he won at the Carifta Games the Government assisted his family with a house. “He came from one of those very poor families. He used to take the bus to St George’s and then walk to school for 20 minutes while other children took another bus.”

 

James attends Alabama State University and Grenadians are expecting the government to bring him home after the Olympics, Greenidge said. James was a participant in the Youth and Sports Programme since the age of 14 and showed his talent from a young age, moving on to win the 400 metres race in the 2009 Carifta Games and in the World Games in Germany last year. It was after he won the Carifta Games that coaches from Alamaba State University grabbed him, Greenidge said. “We expected a medal, even gold from him in the London Olympics. “Kirani is out of the ordinary. He is a special case. He has been so since early days. He used to be beating the big guys in track and field.” What stands out with James is his humility, Greenidge said. “Despite his success, he has not lost his head. He keeps his eyes on the ground,” he said.

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