Of the 204 countries that marched into London’s new Olympic Park for the opening ceremony on July 27, 22 hailed from the Caribbean region. Delegation size ranged from two (Dominica) to 110 (Cuba).
Kudos to these Caribbean athletes at the Olympics. They are champions who embody the Olympic spirit, whether they medaled or not.
And the folks back home, from the Bahamas to Trinidad, are celebrating their native sons and daughters in true Caribbean style. They all just know how to party so well.
Kirani James from Grenada captured the island’s first-ever Olympic medal, and it wasn’t just any medal. It was gold in the 400-meter dash.
“This win is not just for me, this is for my whole country,” said James, the first non-American to break 44 seconds. “Everyone in Grenada will be proud. They will be having a street party, everyone getting merry.”
And indeed they were. From the capital of St. George’s to the west coast fishing village of Gouyave where James was born, people jammed to music, banged on drums and steel pans and danced in the streets.
The government declared the next day a national holiday, closing schools and emptying offices and nutmeg factories so islanders could trumpet James’ accomplishment.
A boulevard already has been named in his honor in St.George’s. Tourism Minister George Vincent said that James “put Grenada on the map.”
Raucous celebrations by jubilant Jamaicans over its wins in track and field events pretty much shut down the island this week for official business.
The merriment spilled over to the diaspora communities in the U.S. and to the hundreds of Jamaican fans and visitors who jammed London streets draped in the national colors of black, gold and green.
Who can forget the image of Felix Sanchez, Dominican Republic gold-medal winner, weeping on the podium?
This was the guy who pinned a photo of his deceased abuela (grandmother) on the reverse side of his nametag during the 400-meter hurdle competition.
And there were 357 other Caribbean athletes who didn’t make it to the podium but who gave it their best.
They all deserve a medal.
— Gay Nagle Myers