Latin America & Caribbean

Grenada parties after Kirani James wins Olympic gold

Left to right: Dominican Republic's Luguelin Santos, Bahamas' Chris Brown, Grenada's Kirani James, Trinidad and Tobago's Lalonde Gordon
Image caption The win by James (third from left) came on a night of Caribbean success

The Caribbean island nation of Grenada erupted in celebration after Kirani James stormed to victory in the men's 400m at the London Olympics.

Grenadians danced, cheered and waved flags in the streets as James, 19, won the country's first Olympic gold in a personal best of 43.94 seconds.

James was a "real good role model for our young people," Grenada's Prime Minister Tillman Thomas told the BBC.

The government has declared Tuesday afternoon a holiday.

James, already the world champion, became the first non-US athlete to run the distance in under 44 seconds.

"My message to Kirani James is to continue doing what he's been doing. He's been a very good influence on our young people," Mr Thomas said.

"He's very disciplined, very organised and very focused."

There were noisy celebrations in James's home village of Gouyave.

Local journalist Nicole Best told AFP news agency that most Grenadians thought he would leave his mark on the Garmes.

"Achieving gold went beyond our expectations".

Grenadians are hoping the win by James will raise the profile of their nation, which has a population of just over 100,000 and is largely reliant on tourism.

"We expect more success from this and that many more people will be inquiring about Grenada." banker Robert Frederick told AFP.

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