23 November 2012 – Barcelona, Spain – World and Olympic 400m champion Kirani James appeared at the press point at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona. These were some of the highlights.
What was the reception like for you back home in Grenada when you won Olympic gold?
Kirani James: Everyone in Grenada was excited and proud, and there was a real feeling of the country being so united and happy. I didn't drink, but a lot of people drank for me!
Has there been even more interest in athletics in your country since your successes at the World Championships and Olympics?
KJ: In 2004 there was a surge of interest in athletics in Grenada after Alleyne Francique had a great season. It's even more popular now, but there has always been a strong interest in Grenada. Unfortunately the resources aren't there though.
Do you think you could break the world record?
KJ: It would be great if the world record happens, but it's not something I'm obsessed with. It's all about just improving as an athlete in each and every meet and in each training session. If it happens, then it's meant to be.
You have had some success over 200m in the past, will you focus on that event again in future?
KJ: I might do some 200m races in future but it will just be for fun; I won't be doing that event at major championships. I won't be doing the indoor season next year either, because 2012 has been quite a long season. I'm a part-time student now, so that means I can spend more time training.
Outside of athletics, what other sports do you like?
KJ: There’s a strong background of basketball in my family, my father and my brothers play it a lot. My favourite team is Oklahoma City Thunder.
1997 World 200m champion Ato Boldon of Trinidad & Tobago also attended the press point. Ato, now a respected commentator, was asked the following questions:
What would your advice be for Kirani James?
Ato Boldon: Kirani should be giving everyone else tips. When you get into this business there are several things you want to check off the list. World champion, he's done that. Olympic champion, he's done that. World Junior champion, he's done that. My only advice to him, which I said to him and the people of Grenada last year, was to stop talking about the world record. Allow him to go out and compete freely. He took that advice and the results certainly showed in London.
Who do you think should win the IAAF Athlete of the Year?
AB: My vote went to Aries Merritt. I feel he lined up week after week against tough opposition. I also feel he can take the world record under 12.80 but he'll need someone close to him to push him to that.
In your opinion, is Usain Bolt the greatest sprinter of all time?
AB: In this sport, everything is measured by Olympic success. What Bolt did in London, winning back-to-back titles in the 100m, 200m and relay, that has never been done before. So you can make a good case for Bolt being the No.1 sprinter of all time, even though he's not done.
Can Yohan Blake be an even greater sprinter than Usain Bolt?
AB: It's very hard to bet against a 22-year-old who's running 9.6 and 19.2. When I saw 19.32, I thought that would be there forever, but it was gone in 12 years. So in the same way that people look at 9.58 and 19.19 and think it might be there forever, you need to look behind and see people like Yohan who is very hungry with a great work ethic. I actually think Yohan Blake will run Bolt out of the 100m, forcing Bolt to become a 200m and 400m athlete in the next few years.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF