Kirani James’ rise to superstardom continued, as once again the young Grenadian finished first in a 400 metre event.
What makes this victory surprising however, is the manner in which it was achieved.
As soon as the starter fired his gun, James swiftly turned around, and began running backwards – much to the confusion of his competitors and the crowd. By the end of the first lap, James’ lead had become practically unassailable, such was his dominance.
Make no mistake, this was no gimmick. Kirani James’ performance here was vintage. The effortless manner in which he ascended to the front of the pack, those long legs striding heels first, his head turning round ever so often just so he could see where he was going – truly the stuff of legend.
When he crossed the finish line – back first – some sections of the crowd grew anxious to know whether the win would be upheld. They needn’t have worried. There is nothing in the rulebook that states that an athlete must run in any particular way.
In the post race interview, Kirani was asked why he had run the race backwards.
“I was bored. I wanted to see if I could challenge myself, so I thought maybe I should do something different.”
Ever looking forward to the next opportunity to test himself, Kirani confirmed that in his next race, he would try something even more drastic.
“I’ve been practicing swimming for a while now. I’m getting good at the backstroke, so I might try that. It may be a little tough considering the lack of water on the track, but I’m not too concerned about that.”