|200 Metres||20.41||+1.1||El Paso, TX||16 APR 2011|
|400 Metres||43.74||Lausanne (Pontaise)||03 JUL 2014|
|200 Metres||20.58||Albuquerque, NM||21 JAN 2011|
|400 Metres||44.80||Fayetteville, AR||27 FEB 2011|
|2011||20.41||+1.1||El Paso, TX||16 APR|
|2010||20.76||+0.8||George Town||05 APR|
|2015||43.78||Beijing (National Stadium)||26 AUG|
|2014||43.74||Lausanne (Pontaise)||03 JUL|
|2013||43.96||Paris Saint-Denis (Stade de France)||06 JUL|
|2012||43.94||London (Olympic Stadium)||06 AUG|
|2011||44.36||Zürich (Letzigrund)||08 SEP|
|2010||45.01||Knoxville, TN||16 MAY|
|2008||45.70||Bydgoszcz (Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak)||10 JUL|
|2011||20.58||Albuquerque, NM||21 JAN|
|2010||20.94||College Station, TX||13 FEB|
|2012||45.19||Fayetteville (Randall Tyson TC), AR||11 FEB|
|2011||44.80||Fayetteville, AR||27 FEB|
|2010||45.24||Fayetteville (Randall Tyson TC), AR||28 FEB|
|6th IAAF World Youth Championships||1||21.05||-0.9||Bressanone||12 JUL 2009|
|15th IAAF World Championships||3||43.78||Beijing (National Stadium)||26 AUG 2015|
|14th IAAF World Championships||7||44.99||Moskva (Luzhniki)||13 AUG 2013|
|The XXX Olympic Games||1||43.94||London (Olympic Stadium)||06 AUG 2012|
|IAAF World Indoor Championships 2012||6||46.21||Istanbul (Ataköy Arena)||10 MAR 2012|
|13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics||1||44.60||Daegu (DS)||30 AUG 2011|
|13th IAAF World Junior Championships||1||45.89||Moncton (Moncton Stadium)||22 JUL 2010|
|6th IAAF World Youth Championships||1||45.24||Bressanone||10 JUL 2009|
|12th IAAF World Junior Championships||2||45.70||Bydgoszcz (Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak)||10 JUL 2008|
|5th IAAF World Youth Championships||2||46.96||Ostrava||13 JUL 2007|
Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.
Updated 18 August 2015
Kirani JAMES, Grenada (200m/400m)
Born: 1 September 1992, St George’s, Grenada
Lives: Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
Coach: Harvey Glance
Manager: Renaldo Nehemiah
Kirani James is considered by many to be the “new Usain Bolt”.
Five years ago, the comparison might have seemed extreme. But after the 2011 IAAF World Championships, in Daegu, Korea, no one would be brave enough to bet against James becoming an all-time great.
Two days before his 19th birthday, he struck gold in the men’s 400 metres in Daegu, running from behind to dethrone American LaShawn Merritt.
"It's a great feeling," James said, after the race. "Just being here and making everyone proud to be a Grenadian."
His compatriots were certainly proud. Throughout the country, there were celebrations, some Grenadians even taking to the streets for a Carnival-style jump-up in recognition of global gold.
Prime Minister Tillman Thomas joined the celebrations by declaring a National Colours Day to mark the crowning of Grenada’s first ever champion at the outdoor Worlds.
In just 44.60 seconds, James had put his country on the map. The writing, though, was on the wall long before his Daegu heroics.
The world took notice when, at 16, Bolt clocked 45.35 seconds in the 400 metres. At the same age, in 2009, James completed the one-lap trip in 45.24!
He’s 22 now, and boasts a personal best of 43.74 seconds!
James’ first sub-44 run was 43.94. He produced that scorcher in 2012, the Grenadian whipping his rivals at the London Olympics. With the golden run, he became the first non-American in history to join the sub-44 club.
Before that historic race, on August 6, 2012, Grenada, a small Caribbean island with a population of just 104,000, had not yet produced an Olympic medallist. But thanks to Kirani Zeno James, the key word in the preceding sentence is yet.
Not only did James become his country’s first Olympic medallist. It took him just 43.94 seconds to also become Grenada’s first Olympic champion.
Gold on the world’s biggest sporting stage is something James had thought about. It was a vision, he had said, made possible by a two-time World indoor 400 metres champion.
“It will be a great honour [to earn Olympic gold], but I have to give credit to Mr Alleyne Francique for putting us on the map, setting the trend and giving us Grenadian athletes hope and inspiration that we can compete with the best in the world, no matter how small a country we are, and achieve that feat one day.”
That one day arrived in August 2012, James sending his compatriots into a wild frenzy with his dominant run in the Olympic one-lap final.
Kirani James is undoubtedly the real deal. The Grenada track star, however, is uncomfortable with comparisons.
“Usain Bolt and Michael Johnson are special in their own way…I am [too], and so are all the athletes around the world.”
James started taking athletics seriously when he joined SpeedZone, in Grenada. His coach at the club was Albert Joseph.
At the 2006 Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) Games, in St Lucia, 13-year-old James represented Grenada in the under-15 age-group.
“I won the 400 metres and came second in the 200 metres. I realised that I could compete with the powerhouses like Jamaica and Trinidad [and Tobago]. I realised I was something special.”
James is grateful for the encouragement he received early on.
“My family, my coach, people close to me, the community and others that know a lot about the history of track and field.”
James is based at the University of Alabama, in the United States, where he is coached by American Harvey Glance, a sprint relay gold medallist at the 1976 Olympic Games and 1987 World Championships.
James took the American collegiate circuit by storm in 2010, capping off a superb freshman season by winning the NCAA 400 metres title. In 2011, he successfully defended his crown in his last outing as a collegiate athlete. Afterwards, James turned pro.
But though he is one of the brightest young stars in athletics, the 22-year-old from the fishing village of Gouyave, in St John’s, Grenada remains grounded, acknowledging God’s role in blessing him with “this talent”.
“Just trying to make the best of the situation and talent that I have, and not let it go to waste.
"I was born in St. George's because that's where the only hospital in the country was, but I grew up in the community of Gouyave, St. John's. Being from a village where I get so much support from everybody,” James continues, “knowing that you can't let them down…that’s enough inspiration to drive me.”
Athletics is not the only sport in which James has an interest.
“My whole family played basketball, a sport that my dad (Dorrani Marshall) and brother play very seriously. I grew up playing basketball and a bit of soccer, but then I figured out that track and field was the best choice for me.”
And what a good choice it was! At the 2009 World Youth Championships, in Bressanone, Italy James won the 200 metres and 400 metres titles. He followed up with gold in the 400 metres at the 2010 World Junior Championships, in Moncton, Canada, improving on the silver he had earned at the 2008 World Juniors meet, in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Before he came out of his teens, James already had many successes to list on his athletics resume, including the Trinity of one-lap world titles – youth, junior and senior.
But what about disappointments?
“I don't really have one. Even if I did I don't see it like that for long, but as a stepping stone to improvement.”
At meets, James is not just a competitor. He’s a fan as well.
“First, I have to complete the task at hand, take care of what’s priority, but after I'm done I can say I'm a track fanatic.”
James spends his free time “watching soccer, hanging out with friends, playing a bit of soccer, basketball, video games.”
James is threatening to become one of the most dominant 400 runners in history. In March, 2012, however, he was forced to deal with the disappointment of defeat at the World Indoor Championships, in Istanbul, Turkey. Drawn in lane one in the final, James finished sixth in 46.21 seconds, the title going to Costa Rican Nery Brenes (45.11).
James bounced back with a fast outdoor opener, clocking 44.72 for victory at the Colorful Daegu meeting. It was a homecoming of sorts for the young Grenadian, the triumph coming on the 2011 World Championship track.
At the Prefontaine Classic, in Oregon, USA, James was disqualified for a false start, but ran under protest. He clocked 44.97 to finish second to 2008 Olympic champion Merritt (44.91). However, the disqualification stood and James’ placing and time were struck from the records.
James returned to winners’ row at the Aviva London Grand Prix, getting home in 44.85 seconds.
And in his final Olympic warm-up, at the Herculis 2012 meet, in Monaco, he again clashed with Merritt. However, track and field fans did not get the Olympic preview they were hoping for, Merritt pulling up with a cramp in his left hamstring.
The final result in Monaco left the fans with even more unanswered questions, ahead of the London Games, James clocking 44.76 to finish second to Belgium’s Jonathan Borlee (44.74).
But by the time he faced the starter in the Olympic one-lap championship race, James was in the form of his life, the Grenadian striking gold in emphatic fashion.
Merritt was not in the field in the Olympic final. The injured American was a non-finisher in his first round heat.
But Merritt was back on track in 2013. He handed the Grenadian his only defeat, ahead of the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, clocking 44.32 to win at the Prefontaine Classic, in Oregon, USA. James was forced to settle for second spot, in 44.39.
The highpoint for James as he prepared to defend his global crown came at the Meeting Areva IAAF Diamond League meet, in Paris, France, where he topped the field in 43.96 seconds, firmly establishing himself as the Moscow favourite.
The favourite’s tag, however, is not one that James readily accepted.
“I don’t think it’s really a target (on my back). Every year, everybody has a clean slate. At least that’s how I see it. I don’t see myself as the favourite or anything else, but just one of the guys that’s trying to win another championship and perform well.
“(The 43.96) just indicates that I’m in great form, I’m in great shape. It doesn’t guarantee anything. I still have to work hard and not take anything for granted. It shows that I’m on the right track in terms of having a good performance this World Championships.”
James was right. The 43.96 seconds clocking was no guarantee of a successful defence of his world title. The Grenadian track star was a mere shadow of himself in the final stages of the Moscow 2013 one-lap final, slipping from second to seventh on the home straight. He clocked 44.99 seconds to finish way behind Merritt, the winner in a personal best 43.74.
James regained his championship touch in 2014, clocking 44.24 seconds in Glasgow, Scotland to capture the Commonwealth Games title.
It was a dominant 2014 season for James. The reigning Olympic champ produced his 43.74 PR (personal record) at the Athletissima IAAF Diamond League meet, in Switzerland. And he only tasted defeat in his pet event once for the entire year, finishing second to Merritt in April in his 400 opener.
To date, James has only been beaten once this year. But while Merritt has been his only real rival for the past couple seasons, 2015 presents new challenges.
After winning his first five 400s, James was forced to settle for the runner-up spot at the Meeting Areva IAAF Diamond League meet in Paris, France, behind Wayde van Niekirk, the 23-year-old South African sensation getting home in a personal best 43.96 seconds.
James has not competed since that July 4 defeat, and is undoubtedly putting in the work required to contend with the new kid on the block.
Van Niekirk, however, is not the only threat for gold at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China. Another African quartermiler, Botswana’s Isaac Makwala leads the world this year with a 43.72 seconds sizzler. The list of title contenders also includes 18-year-old Qatari, Abdalelah Haroun (44.27), a couple 19-year-olds, Bahamian Steven Gardiner (44.27) and Trinidad and Tobago’s Machel Cedenio (44.36), and, of course, defending champion Merritt.
There’s plenty for James to think about as he bids to regain the title he surrendered in Moscow back in 2013.
200: 20.41A (2011)
400: 43.74 (2014)
200/400: 2007: 22.10, 21.81w/46.96; 2008: 21.38/45.70; 2009: 21.05/45.24; 2010: 20.76/45.01; 2011: 20.41A/44.36; 2012: 45.19i/43.94; 2013:43.96; 2014: 20.63/43.74; 2015: 43.95
|2007 1st||(400)||Carifta Games U17 (Providenciales)||47.86|
|2007 2nd||(400)||World Youth Championships (Ostrava)||46.96|
|2008 1st||(200)||Carifta Games U17 (Basseterre)||21.38|
|2008 1st||(400)||Carifta Games U17 (Basseterre)||47.87|
|2008 2nd||(400)||World Junior Championships (Bydgoszcz)||45.70|
|2008 1st||(400)||Commonwealth Youth Games U18 (Pune)||46.66|
|2009 1st||(400)||Carifta Games U20 (Vieux-Fort)||45.45|
|2009 1st||(200)||World Youth Championships (Bressanone)||21.05|
|2009 1st||(400)||World Youth Championships (Bressanone)||45.24|
|2009 1st||(400)||Pan Am Junior Championships (Port-of-Spain)||45.43|
|2009 5th||(4x400)||Pan Am Junior Championships (Port-of-Spain)||3:11.91|
|2010 1st||(200)||Carifta Games U20 (George Town)||20.76|
|2010 1st||(400)||Carifta Games U20 (George Town)||45.02|
|2010 1st||(400)||World Junior Championships (Moncton)||45.89|
|2011 1st||(200)||Pan Am Junior Championships (Florida)||20.53w|
|2011 5th||(4x400)||CAC* Championships (Mayaguez)||3:04.27|
|2011 1st||(400)||World Championships (Daegu)||44.60|
|2012 6th||(400)||World Indoor Championships (Turkey)||46.21|
|2012 1st||(400)||Olympic Games (London)||43.94|
|2013 7th||(400)||World Championships (Moscow)||44.99|
|2014 1st||(400)||Commonwealth Games (Glasgow)||44.24|
* CAC = Central American & Caribbean
Prepared by Kwame Laurence for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2010-2015