LONDON – Former University of Alabama track standout Kirani James added Olympic gold medalist to his growing resume by winning the 400 meters in dominating fashion with a personal-best time of 43.94 Monday evening at the London Olympic Stadium.
James, representing his home country of Grenada, became the small Caribbean island’s first Olympic medalist as well as the first non-American to break the 44-second barrier in the history of the event.
As he had in his two qualifying races, the 19-year-old James ran an extremely strong and controlled race throughout the entire 400 meters but dramatically pulled away from the field in the final 100 meters to win by more than half of second. Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic earned the silver medal in 44.46 while Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago took bronze in 44.52.
The gold medal performance comes just 13 months into James’ professional career. The two-time NCAA Champion in the event, turned professional after winning his second NCAA title in June of 2011. He capped his first professional season in grand fashion by winning the World Championship in the event in September 2011.
James’ gold medal is the fourth medal earned by a former UA male track athlete as he joins Americans Jan Johnson and Calvin Smith in the annals of UA track history. Johnson earned a bronze medal in the pole vault in the 1972 games while Smith won a gold medal as part of the 4x100-meter relay team in 1984 and an individual bronze medal in the 100 meters in 1988.