As Kirani James’ International Profile Grows, Caribbean Steps Up Support
Above: Kirani James in London (Photo: London 2012)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Grenada’s Kirani James has catapulted to international attention with his gold medal in the men’s 400-metre race in London, but he is finding more and more support within the Caribbean, too.
Grenada Prime Minister Tillman Thomas said he welcomes calls by Caribbean leaders for greater recognition of James’ feat in London, the first-ever medal for the tri-island nation.
Thomas, speaking following the historic first session of the OECS Assembly in Antigua, said the support he heard from his Caribbean counterparts showed that James’ success was a “celebration of the dreams and aspirations of the people of the OECS.”
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer called on regional carrier LIAT to name an aircraft in honour of James, who was the world champion in the 400m in 2011.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves also praised James’ performance.
LIAT joined in on the praise, calling attention not only to James’ historic victory, but his gesture following the 400m semifinal, when he exchanged bibs with South African double-amputee Oscar Pistorius.
LIAT CEO Captain Ian Brunton said the company wished to “urge young people throughout the region to follow [James’] example and always strive success,”
That’s not to say James did not already have a high regional profile. In January, he signed an endorsement deal with regional mobile firm LIME.
Brunton said the company would be “honouring him with a fitting tribute for his accomplishment very shortly.”
Grenada’s PM also took a moment to share his support for Jamaica’s strong track display in London, highlighted by a 100m and 200m-winning performance by Usain Bolt that Thomas called “legendary.”
Bolt’s 100m and 200m sweep was part of a very strong Olympics for the Caribbean athletes thus far.
“We embrace [all Caribbean athletes] as our very own, in the same spirit that the region has embraced Kirani James,” Thomas said. “Our athletes have proven that hard work and dedication yields remarkable results.”