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Welcome to the "Member Focus" page. The Member Focus page provides a forum for Friendly Net members to share information about themselves, others or special topics. This month Trevor Ettienne (KP2T) would like to say a special thanks and congratulations to fellow Grenadian, Kirani James, who recently won the men’s 400 meters at the 2012 Olympics in London.

 

KIRANI JAMES


Kirani James (born 1 September 1992) is a Grenadian sprinter who specializes in the 200 and 400 metres. He is the reigning 400 metres world champion as well as the reigning Olympic champion, winning the 400 metres at London 2012. This was

Grenada's first Olympic medal.


Prodigious from a young age, he ran the fastest 400 m times ever by a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old. He won a series of gold medals at the CARIFTA Games and the Commonwealth Youth Games and rose on the international stage with 400 m silver medals at the 2007 World Youth and 2008 World Junior Championships. James became the first athlete to run a 200/400 double at the 2009 World Youth Championships and was the 2010 World Junior Champion.


He gained an athletic scholarship at the University of Alabama and won back-to-back NCAA Outdoor Championship titles in his first two years. James is the third fastest of all-time indoors (44.80 seconds) and ran a personal best of 44.36 at the 2011 IAAF Diamond League in Zürich.


Youth Career


At the age of 14 James won the gold medal in the 400 m at the 2007 CARIFTA Games in the under 17 category with a time of 47.86 seconds. He went on to win a silver medals at the 2007 World Youth Championships with a time of 46.96 s a time which is the fastest run by a 14-year-old.


In April 2008 he defended his CARIFTA 400 m title, winning the 200 metres with a time of 21.38 s. In July that year he won silver medal at the 2008 World Junior Championships with a time of 45.70 seconds, which is his personal best nation youth and junior record and the fastest time ever run by a 15-year-old. In October he won the gold medal at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games with a new games record of 46.66 seconds.


James made his third CARIFTA Games appearance in 2009 and, in his under-20 debut, he defeated the defending 400 m champion and fellow Grenadian Rondell Bartholomew to win in a personal best of 45.45 s. This easily set a new championship record, beating Usain Bolt's six-year-old mark of 46.35 s. In consequence, he was awarded the Austin Sealy Trophy for the most outstanding athlete of the games.


James became the first youth athlete to complete a 200/400 metres double gold at the 2009 World Youth Championships in Athletics. Noting that he would be a junior athlete for a further two years, he focused on upcoming events, pinpointing the 2010 World Junior Championships in Athletics and the 2012 Summer Olympics as future goals. Following this, he won the 400 m at the 2009 Pan American Junior Championships. He was declared the 2009 Grenada Sportsman of the Year.


College Athletics


At least ten colleges in the United States had expressed strong interest in recruiting James for their track team, including Baylor, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida State, and Arizona State. He accepted a scholarship offer from Alabama and in his first ever appearance on an indoor track he ran a 45.79 in the 400 meters, placing first and breaking the 10-year-old school record of 46.46 held by Cori Loving.


James ran a new indoor personal best of 20.94 in the 200 m dash at the Texas A&M Challenge at Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Station, Texas on February 13, 2010. He was runner-up at the NCAA Indoor Championships, finishing behind Torrin Lawrence. James lowered his 400 m personal best to 45.02 s at the 2010 CARIFTA Games, where he took a 200/400 m double, and improved further to 45.01 in winning the SEC Championships 400 m title. He claimed the gold medal over 400 m at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Athletics, but stated he was only running for times and was not satisfied with his winning performance of 45.89 seconds. He won the NCAA Outdoor Championship title in his first year of collegiate competition.


James moved up to third on the all-time indoor lists in February 2011, recording 44.80 seconds to win at the SEC Indoor Championships. This left only Michael Johnson and Kerron Clement as the faster athletes indoors, and also bettered LaShawn Merritt's previous world best junior time of 44.93 seconds. He failed to reach the podium at the NCAA Indoor meet as he clashed with another athlete and fell mid-race. He managed to repeat as the collegiate champion outdoors, however, as he edged ahead of Gil Roberts by one hundredth of a second. After the end of the college season, he made his professional debut at the London Grand Prix Diamond League meeting and established himself among the world's best with a personal best run of 44.61 seconds – a time which made him the fastest man that year.


Professional Career


At the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, both James and fellow Grenadian runner Rondell Bartholomew made the finals of the 400m event. James won the event in a personal best of 44.60 seconds, becoming the youngest 400m world champion at the age of 18. The medal is the first for Grenada in any event at the World championships in athletics. Nine days later, James won the 400m at the 2011 IAAF Diamond League in Zürich with a new personal best of 44.36 seconds.


At the London 2012 Olympics, James won the 400m semi final 2, achieving a season best of 44.59 seconds. At the end of the race, James exchanged name tags with double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius as a sign of respect for him.


On 6 August 2012, James won the 400m Olympic gold in a time of 43.94, a national record, earning Grenada its first Olympic medal. He was the first non-US runner to break the 44-second mark. World record holder Michael Johnson said, following the race, that James stood a chance of beating his record if he was able to deal with the remaining flaws in his technique. James described his win as "a huge step for our country in terms of stepping up to the plate in track and field, just going out there and putting us on the map."