Kirani James of Grenada reacts after he crosses the finish line to win the gold medal in the Men's 400m final on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 6 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Propelled by yet another vociferous capacity crowd of 80,000, the 19-year-old turned a narrow lead off the final turn into a massive triumph as he crossed the line in 43.94 to become only the tenth member of the event’s sub-44 second club and the first from outside the U.S.
"I am so excited, everyone in Grenada will be proud," said James, whose previous career best of 44.36 was set in Zurich last year as a follow-up to his World title in Daegu. "This is a great feeling. Nothing can describe what I am feeling."
James carried a narrow lead to the end of the back straight, followed closely by Bahamians Demetrius Pinder and Chris Brown, with another teenager, 18-year-old Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, a stride behind.
When they reached the straight, there was no stopping James whose confident flowing strides would eventually supplant World record holder Michael Johnson as UK All-Comers record holder.
Behind him it was Santos, the World junior champion, who gave the best chase as he held off Trinidad & Tobago’s Lalonde Gordon and Bahamian veteran Chris Brown to take a wholly unexpected silver medal, stopping the clock in 44.46, jut 0.01 shy of her career best.
"I have put so much work into it, I can’t even quantify it," said Santos, whose first international success came with a victory at the New York leg of the Samsung Diamond League. "It was an emotional moment when I crossed the finish line. I knew that my work was done."
Gordon meanwhile was the surprise of the event, arriving in London with a 45.02 best. He improved to 44.58 in yesterday’s semis and again to 44.52 to take the bronze, the second medal in the event for the Caribbean nation.
"I saw it coming for the past few months," said Gordon, who reached the semis of the 2010 Commonwealth Games but couldn’t advance from the opening round of last year Central American and Caribbean Championships. "I’m feeling wonderful. It’s a dream come true to be an Olympic medallist. I knew I was hopeful that I can compete with the fellas."
Brown, the oldest man in the field by a decade and the flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, finished fourth in 44.79, repeating his position from the 2008 Games, and 2005 and 2007 World Championships and 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Belgian identical twin brothers Kevin and Jonathan Borlee were fifth and sixth, virtually inseparable at the line, clocking 44.81 and 44.83 respectively.
Pinder (44.98) faded to seventh down the final straight while Australian Steven Solomon (45.14), another teenager in the field at 19, was eighth.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
- Kirani James of Grenada reacts after he crosses the finish line to win the gold medal in the Men's 400m final on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 6 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Kirani James of Grenada leads the field to win the Men's 400m final on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 6, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Kirani James of Grenada races alongside Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago in the Men's 400m final on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 6 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright