Former Tide Track Star World Champion

DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA – Less than a month after making his professional debut, former University of Alabama track standout Kirani James burst onto the international scene Tuesday by winning a gold medal in the 400 meters at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

During two seasons at Alabama, James won a pair of NCAA outdoor titles in the 400 meters, was a three-time SEC Champion and the 2011 SEC Indoor and Outdoor Runner of the Year.

Representing his native Grenada, the 18-year-old James posted a personal best time of 44.60 to clip defending champion LaShawn Merritt for the gold medal.

"I'm a bit surprised by the win, but I'm happy to come here, represent my country and run a personal best," James said to reporters following his race. "This means great things not only for me, but the people in my country and the rest of the 400-meter sprinters. I think we have a chance to make it a very competitive event come next year's Olympics."

James trailed by more than a meter with 100 meters remaining but ran down Merritt to win by a stride and three one-hundreths of a second at the line. With the win, James becomes the youngest 400-meter world champion in history by more than two years.

"I just tried to stay as relaxed as possible and finish strong," James said of coming from behind to win.

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