Grenada recently received a Gold Medal at the IAAF World Championships. How do you see the future of Grenada’s athletes following this extraordinary achievement?
Grenadians and friends of Grenada are still basking in the glory of ‘King’ Kirani James’s gold medal performance in the Men’s 400m at the 13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea on 30 August 2011. This was the island’s first major world title medal since Alleyne Francique won two gold medals at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in 2004 and 2006.
But the added significance of this 400m was the presence of two Grenadians – James and Rondell Bartholomew – in the final. Belgium was the only other country with more than one finalist in the race. Bartholomew finished sixth, and the other Grenadian and lone female on the team, Janelle Redhead, reached the semi-finals of the Women’s 200m.
The performances of the three athletes will certainly re-ignite support for Team Grenada at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
What do you believe are Grenada’s hopes and dreams for the London 2012 Olympics?
Track and field is expected to be the hallmark of Grenada’s representation at the London games and both James and Bartholomew are already on the team. Judging from their performances in the World Championships they will be among the favourites for the 400m. James has also qualified for the 200m.
The Grenada Olympic Committee (GOC) is hoping that the success of the three track athletes in Daegu would inspire their peers as well as athletes from other sporting disciplines to qualify for London 2012. About 20 athletes, identified by the GOC, are seeking qualifying standards for London 2012 and there is every reason to believe that many of them will make up what could be Grenada’s largest delegation to the games. The Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico this month will also be an opportunity for athletes and swimmers to gain qualifying standards for London.
To what do you attribute the success of Grenada’s athletes thus far?
I would say credit should be given to the Ministry of Sports’ talent identification programme which launched a few years ago. This programme has unearthed many of our young and outstanding sportsmen and women including Kirani. Football, netball, cricket, swimming and tennis, among others, are sports that have benefitted from this programme.
Additionally, Grenada is not short of talented athletes and has been among the best performers at the Junior CARIFTA Games over the years. Neisha Bernard-Thomas (800m) and Randy Lewis (triple jump) are two world-class athletes but had to sit out the 2011 season due to injury. Allison George, Trish Bartholomew, Patricia Sylvester, Kanika Beckles, Josh Charles, Kemon Herry, Kerron Toussaint and Joel Redhead are among the athletes shortlisted.
When Grenada participated in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the names of Kirani James, Rondell Bartholomew and Janelle Redhead were mere flashes on the minds of many Grenadians. However, today these athletes are Grenada’s great hope for securing its first Olympic medal.
These athletes recent successes have certainly resuscitated the thirst for medals and the population’s anticipation. Following the excitement in Daegu, many enquiries were made in Grenada about how to get to London 2012. The presence of Grenadians and friends of Grenada in London will do much to support the national team carrying the flag at the Games.