- 05 December, 2011
- by Grenada Spot
Kirani James (Born September 01 1992) is a Grenadian sprinter who specializes in the 200 and 400 metres. He currently is a freshman at the University of Alabama.
At the age of 14 he 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 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 s, 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 46.66s.
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 Bartolomew 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.
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.
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. James eventually decided to accept a scholarship offer from Alabama. 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 was named the SEC's Runner of the Week. On January 30, 2010 he was named Grenada Sportsman of the Year 2009.
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. James lowered his personal best in the 400m by clocking 45.02s to win gold at the CARIFTA Games on April 3, 2010. On May 16, 2010, he then lowered his best again to 45.01 in winning the SEC Championships 400 m title.
James, 19, the reigning worldchampion, dominated the field, winning in 43.94sec. Luguelin Santos, also 19, of the Dominican Republic, took silver in 44.46sec while Trinidad and Tobago's Lalonde Gordon took bronze.
The Grenadan made his move in the final 150m, coming off the bend with a clear lead and never looked like being caught.
His time was a new national record for the Caribbean island nation and he also became the first non-US athlete to dip under 44 seconds for the one-lap race.
The United States has been utterly dominant in the race since Victor Markin, representing the former Soviet Union, won the event in the boycott-blighted 1980Moscow Olympics, where the US did not compete.
Last year James became the second youngest world gold medallist when he outdippedLaShawn Merritt of the United States. Merritt, the defending Olympic champion, pulled up in his heat in London on Saturday and limped off the track.
James set world age-group records for the 400m when he was 13, 14 and 15, winning double 200-400m golds at the 2009 world youth championships, before being crowned world junior champion in the 400m a year later.
While Usain Bolt ran 45.35sec for the 400m as a 16-year-old, James timed 45.24 at the same age.
The world record holder in the event remains US great Michael Johnson, who timed 43.18sec in 1999, but many observers believe James has the potential to threaten that time.