ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Tuesday, September 4, 2012 – Kirani James returned to a hero’s welcome in Grenada as he enjoyed a weekend of celebrations in his homeland to mark his August 6 Olympic 400-meter gold medal victory.
James, who was the centre of attraction at events on Saturday and Sunday, arrived in Grenada on the evening of August 31 to a rousing welcome at Maurice Bishop International Airport where he was greeted by scores of Grenadians in a carnival-like atmosphere that included songs, dance, poetry, speeches and a spectacular display of firework.
Adding to this festival atmosphere was a shower of rewards that included more than than EC$730,000 in cash, real estate, treasury bonds and jewellery has been donated to the Grenadian athlete, who had returned home for the first time since he won gold on at the Olympic Games in London, England.
Prime Minister Tillman Thomas announced during a public ceremony at the National Stadium on Saturday that his government would give James EC$500,000 in bonds that will mature in five years. Another EC$100,000 was donated by Republic Bank (Grenada) Limited; while Colombian Emeralds International presented James with a watch, bracelet and chain set valued at EC$13,250. The event followed a day-long island-wide motorcade
James, who also has been appointed a Sports/Tourism Ambassador and provided with a Grenadian diplomatic passport, was also presented with a huge cake depicting an athletic track to celebrate his 20th birthday, which also occurred on Saturday. The prime minister added that his birth date of September 1 would “henceforth be known as Kirani James Day.’’ The Grenada government will also be publishing special commemorative stamps in James’ honour.
His mother and father, Annie James and Jurani Marshall, who were guests at the event at the stadium, received special gift baskets, each worth US$250, from the local operation of Duty Free Caribbean, the parent company of Colombian Emeralds.
Prime Minister Thomas also revealed on Saturday that the athletic stadium – severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 – would be renamed the “Kirani James Stadium’’ after it is rebuilt.
The last of the celebratory events was held Sunday with the launch of a youth motivational program in the village of Gun Battle, Gouyave, where James was born.
Prime Minister Thomas has said the former Fish Market in Gouyave will be transformed into a museum, resource centre and fitness centre in the name of James.
The museum project will be undertaken by government in collaboration with James’ sponsors and SpeedZone, the St John-based track and field club in which the athlete has membership and from which he benefitted from coaching in his formative years.
Lawyer Ruggles Ferguson and his sister, Sandra, also donated about 10,000 square feet of land in Palmiste, S. John, worth about EC$120,000 to James.