ST GEORGE'S, Grenada (GIS) -- Olympic 400 metre champion Kirani James has received a cheque valued at EC$100,000, the first part of EC$500,000 dollars promised to him by the government after his historic feat in London last year.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell handed over the cheque as well as treasury bills to the tune of EC$400,000 dollars to James in a ceremony in St George’s.
James was in Grenada for a weekend visit to family and friends after ending his 2013 athletic season.
“On behalf of the government and people of this country, I want to present you with this EC$100,000 dollar cheque for what you have achieved so far and hope will be more successes in the future,” Mitchell said.
“I can tell you that under this government all Treasury Bills are sacrosanct. Kirani, you can rest assured that you can cash this EC$400,000 in Treasury Bills.”
James is expected to receive EC$100,000 each year until the EC$400,000 balance on the treasury bills is exhausted.
The Grenadian quarter-miler lost his world title in Moscow last month to LaShawn Merritt, the American who he defeated in Daegu, South Korea, when he won the title in 2011.
However, a few days after his disappointing seventh place finish in Moscow, he delivered an improved performance placing second to Merritt in the Zurich Diamond League.
“Kirani we want you to know that at 19 years you attained heroic status -- an icon of this country and nothing will change that,” the Grenadian leader told the country’s most celebrated athlete who sparked massive celebrations across this tri-island state and around the region when he became the first national to win an Olympic gold medal.
“Remember that one can never be always at the top in every attempt; but you will be at the top in terms of how you treat the result and the commitment to pursue further successes. This is what will be the test of the true Kirani James.”
Mitchell is confident that Kirani will continue to make Grenada proud as he did at the 2012 World Athletic Championships in Deagu and the 2013 Olympic Games in London, noting that he has not yet peaked, which he expects to happen between his 25th and 28th birthdays.
“We are confident that you will reach it and continue to make us proud. Whether you come first or last you are our hero Kirani,” Mitchell told the Olympic champion.
Kirani is delighted that his country has make good on its promise, which he indicates will only inspire him to continue representing the country well.
“Going out there and performing to the best of my ability not only for me but for everyone in this country, has given him so much pride and upliftment; it is really unconditional,” Kirani said.
He thanked all for coming out to the occasion and the country, which has been supporting and encouraging him since he was thirteen.