I had the honor of hosting the entire 2012 Grenada Olympic Team in Washington DC. Her Excellency Ambassador Bristol wanted to honor the team for their athletic achievements and encourage them to continue to achieve their goals and excel on and off the field.
It was an honor to spend time with them, bring them all to a Washington Wizards game, and to enjoy a little of the D.C. nightlife. They are a humble and gracious group of young men and women and serious about their particular crafts. They humility they exemplified is indicative of the character of Grenada. They all are appreciative of everything that God has blessed them with, their ability and talents, and they all give proper praise to God for everything.
Grenada's Kirani James may capture gold in the 400 meters Monday night, but his most inspirational moment of the Olympics probably came the previous day.
Instead of immediately celebrating his victory in the 400-meter semifinals Sunday, James approached South Africa's Oscar Pistorius, embraced him and asked to exchange bib numbers. It was a sign of the respect the reigning world champion has for the double amputee sprinter whose bid to make the 400 meters final fell short when he finished last in their semifinal heat.
"My hat's off to him, just coming out here and competing," James told reporters in London on Saturday after Pistorius qualified for the semifinals. "I just see him as another athlete, another competitor. What's more important is I see him as another person. He's someone I admire and respect."
That James won the semifinal heat and Pistorius finished last wasn't a huge surprise.
James became the clear-cut favorite to win gold after defending Olympic champ LaShawn Merritt pulled up with a hamstring injury during Saturday's prelims. And Pistorius was elated to even make the semifinal by running a season-best time Saturday to finish second in his preliminary heat.
Pistorius, known as "Blade Runner" because of his two carbon fiber prosthetic legs, fell behind at the start Sunday because his springy blades force him to pop straight up out of the blocks rather than driving out low and reducing wind resistance. Against weaker runners, he can often recover from that early deficit. Against a world-class field like he faced Sunday, that was too much to ask.
Pistorius' time of 46.54 seconds was more than a second slower than he ran Saturday and nearly two seconds behind James' winning time.
It was a disappointing finish, but it doesn't detract from everything Pistorius accomplished getting to London. James' race-ending gesture only reinforced that.
Everybody's Caribbean magazine said while most international media outlets generally consider politicians first when evaluating individuals who are eligible to be Person of the Year, because of all the barriers James has "endured and surmounted," he was most deserving of the accolade.
The magazine, owned by Grenada-born Herman Hall, points to James' "uplifting comments and conduct off the field, plus the prestige he has brought to Grenada and the small islands of the Eastern Caribbean".
"Given its limited resources, the small nation of Grenada cannot afford to fund training of its athletes and often it's ordinary citizens who spearhead the effort to send athletes on the world stage to gain experience. Such is the path that Kirani James followed," the magazine said.
"Track and field has not been in the blood of Grenada fans when compared to Jamaicans, who will climb mountains to support their athletes."
Olympics preparation was a challenge
Preparing for the London Olympics was a challenge for James, the magazine said, stating that in order not to violate his immigration status as a student in the United States, he was unable to take time off from school to train, "whereas American athletes were allowed to curtail school affording them time to prepare for the Games".
James attends the University of Alabama.
The magazine said the choice of James was an easy one because no political figure or musical artiste stood out in 2012.
Back in ST.GEORGE’S, Grenada, Thursday January 3, 2013 - Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has heaped praise on Olympic and World 400m champion Kirani James for receiving the Caribbean Spirit of Sport Award (SOSA) in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Grenadian quarter-miler was presented with the award after picking up his country's first Olympic medal in the event at the 2012 London Games in August.
James also captured world attention with a humanitarian gesture in one of his preliminary races at the Games.
“We were all excited with the athletic achievement of Kirani on the stadium tracks at the Olympics” Prime Minister Thomas said in a Government statement release on Wednesday. “But the heart of this champion was displayed when the world also took notice when he swapped bibs with double amputee, South African athlete Oscar Pistorius.” While announcing the award, the Sport Company of T&T (SPORTT) heaped praises on James for his achievements in 2012, while still a teenager.
The Grenadian Prime Minister said the award by the Sport Company of T&T is evidence that Kirani’s actions set a new standard for which he will be known throughout his professional career. “People celebrate champions and the world took notice when this Grenadian star athlete did something selfless” said the Grenadian Prime Minister.
“especially when tradition suggests that the first priority for individual competitors is to receive the accolades from their adoring fans”.
Kirani James made all Grenadians proud not only because he became the first sprinter from Grenada to win the gold, not only because his work ethic and skill is going to take him to much higher heights and he is only scratching the surface of his talents, but his true heart which was displayed in a single act will be cemented in Olympic history forever. He along with the entire Olympic Team exemplify the true heart of Grenada.
Rondell Batholomew (Men’s 400m & 4x400)
Kanika Beckles (Women’s 400m & 4x400)
Neisha Bernard-Smith (Women’s 800m)
Kurt Felix (Men’s Decathalon)
Kirani James (Gold Medalist Men’s 400m)
Janelle Redhead (Women’s 200m)
Joel Redhead (Men 200m)
Esau Simpson (Men’s Swimming, 50m and 100m)
Andrea St. Bernard (Taekwondo, 67kg)
Paul Williams (Men’s 100m)
Hail To Grenada, land of Ours
We pledge ourselves to thee
Heads, hearts and hands in unity
To reach our destiny
Ever conscious of God,
Being proud of our heritage
May we with faith and courage
Aspire, build, advance
As one people, one family
God bless our nation