Grenada's Olympic 400m champ showered with gifts
ST GEORGE'S, Grenada (CMC):
Prime Minister Tillman Thomas Saturday night announced that EC half a million dollars in Government bonds will be given to Kirani James for winning Grenada's first Olympic gold medal.
Prime Minister Thomas also revealed that James will be appointed a tourism Ambassador, an athletic stadium to be built by China will be named after him, and commemorative stamps will be published in his honour.
The Grenadian leader told thousands who attended a rally at the national stadium that a museum, and a resource and fitness centre will be built in Gouyave, Kirani's hometown.
"Cabinet will appoint a national project team which will be mandated to go to every parish and to give guidance to all important interest groups sporting associations businesses and the church community," said Prime Minister Thomas.
"The results of the work will reflect the wishes of all the people as to the kind of legacy we dedicate to the honour of our national hero. In doing these things we recognised that we may never be able to repay you for what you have done for our island."
James, both World and Olympic 400-metre champion who turned 20 Saturday, also received a quantity of jewellery including a necklace, bracelet, a ring and a watch from Colombian Emeralds and EC$100,000 from Republic Bank.
His parents were also presented with his and hers gift hampers from Duty Free Caribbean.
Performances from calypsonians, poets, dancers and singers all serenaded James as part of a three-hour rally that climaxed with an impressive fireworks display that lit up the St George's skyline.
"Kirani James, you are the only one who can unite us," declared Opposition leader Dr Keith Mitchell in a short address at the rally.
"You better stay because I don't know what will happen when you leave," Dr Mitchell said.
A four-foot long cake made to look like an athletic track was brought on to the stage by four persons as the Royal Grenada Police Force band performed a happy birthday song for James.
The rally climaxed a series of activities celebrating James' Olympic success which began with a massive homecoming Thursday attended by hundreds at the Maurice Bishop International Airport."The success of Kirani is no surprise to us because we knew his talent and ability," said Phillip Thomas, Principal of the Grenada Boys Secondary School, James' alma mater.
"We, however, were amazed just like the rest of the world that this 20-year-old from a small village in Grenada will progress so quickly to the top of the athletic ladder."
James is due to leave the island on Monday to continue his undergraduate studies in business at the University of Alabama.