BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday, August 13, 2012 – As Saturday’s men’s 4×100 metres relay race brought the curtain down on the English-speaking Caribbean’s performance at the London 2012 Olympics, it was a superior performance to the region’s outing at the games four years earlier.
By the close of the games yesterday (August 12), the official tally for the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) stood at 18 with seven gold, four silver and seven bronze – surpassing the 15 taken in Beijing four years ago.
Jamaica continues to be the CARICOM pace-setter for at the Olympics. When Usain Bolt blazed across the finish line Saturday to lead the Jamaican men to a new world record of 36.84 seconds in the 4×100 metres relay it was a fitting performance to cap off a 12-medal haul for the Jamaican contingent. Team Jamaica acquired a perfect set of four each of the gold, silver and bronze medals in these games, captured primarily by their outstanding track & field team.
While all eyes were on the superstar sprinter, who confirmed his dominance by retaining his Olympic titles from last year and silencing speculation that teammate Yohan Blake could cause one of the games’ biggest upsets; other CARICOM nations were quietly making history on the tracks.
Another tall, lanky runner in the form of Kirani James powered home in the 400-metres race to bring his island Grenada its first ever Olympic gold medal. This was enough to place Grenada at the top of the medal standings in a tongue-in-cheek medal table by ABC Grandstand Sports, which ranked countries according to the number of gold medals it achieved per capita and Gross Domestic Product. As a result of its small population and economy, Grenada was able to beat Jamaica into second place in this ranking.
The 19-year-old from the Grenadian fishing village of Gouyave not only delivered a gold medal, but a half-day holiday for his people as the Grenadian government declared that the nation could have the afternoon off last Tuesday after James won his race.
Also benefitting from a national holiday will be the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar declared in an address to the nation yesterday (August 12) evening that today would be a national holiday to celebrate the country’s best performance ever at an Olympic games.
Trinidad and Tobago ended this year’s games with a medal tally of one gold and three bronze medals. The gold medal was won in spectacular fashion by another Caribbean 19-year-old, Kershorn Walcott, who did cause one of the biggest upsets of the games. The javelin thrower not only gave the twin island-republic its second ever Olympic gold medal, but he also amazed the world by snatching victory away from his eastern European competitors to be the first person from the western hemisphere to win gold in that event in the past 60 years.
Also storming their way into national history was the Bahamian 4×400 metre relay team. Winning their nation’s only medal at the 2012 Olympics, they also brought home The Bahamas’ first gold medal in that event.