by Roger Seepersad/Trinidad Express
PORT OF SPAIN, December 28, 2012 – Grenadian quarter-miler and Olympic 400m champion Kirani James said he felt humbled and honoured to be the first recipient of the Caribbean Spirit of Sport award which will be presented to him in recognition of his performance and the spirit of fair play he displayed at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
James won Grenada’s first Olympic gold medal with a stunning 400m victory at London 2012 in a time of 43.94 seconds and was given a warm welcome when he arrived in Trinidad and Tobago yesterday ahead of the tonight’s Spirit of Sport Awards ceremony at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s.
T&T’s Lalonde Gordon who won bronze in the race, also arrived in T&T yesterday.
“It is very humbling when people could relate to you outside of running fast and turning left,” said Olympic champion James during the welcome reception for him and his parents at the VIP Lounge at Piarco Airport.
“It is a huge honour for me to be recognised as a person other than an athlete. It is unique…it is always going to be a special award,” he added.
Minister of Sport Anil Roberts said that James inspired millions of people across the world during the Olympics and insisted: “The real spirit of sport is the inspiration the young generation can learn from people like Kirani.”
He also urged the local athletes to learn from James.
“Learn from Kirani. Learn from Lalonde. Things will come because they do it for the right reason,” said Roberts as he welcomed the pair.
“What a tremendous day in the lives of us in Trinidad and Tobago to be welcoming “King Kirani” to our shores. It is truly a great honour to have him here.
“We will celebrate him for his achievements and his greatness but he does not need to celebrate himself and this is the message I want to send to all our athletes, especially those who going to wear Red, White and Black want to argue for more money.
“You eh win nothing. You go and you get knocked out and you want more money…that is not what it is about.”
James also received a few gifts from the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT), including a painting by Warren LePlatte commissioned by SPORTT, showing James celebrating his Olympic victory.
The second edition of the Spirit of Sport Awards takes place tonight at Queen’s Hall with Gordon and T&T’s Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott being nominated for the Breakthrough Athlete, Male Athlete of the Year and the Sport Performance of the Year awards.