Former Tide Star Leads Grenada

The former Alabama athlete with the most impressive credentials was one of the flag bearers in the Opening Ceremonies as the XXX (that seems so wrong) Olympics Games got underway in London Friday.

Kirani James, who is now a professional track star after an outstanding career at Alabama, is the 400-meter world champion. Although still a student at The University, he represents his native Grenada at the 2012 Olympics. He was carrying the flag for Grenada Friday as all countries in the games had all or part of their performers march into the Olympic Stadium.

James, of course, is one of the favorites to win Grenada's first-ever Olympic medal. He has a best time of 44.36 seconds.

Alabama does not have great representation at the Olympics. Traditionally, college athletes in the Olympics come from track and field and from swimming and diving. It probably is not related to developing Olympians, but rather to having top-level performers in those sports, that Alabama has made coaching changes in those sports recently.

Dan Waters recently completed his first year as track and field head coach. Bama will have a new head coach for swimming and diving on campus immediately following the Olympic Games. Former Tide star Dennis Pursley, who is in the Hall of Fame as an international coach working with national teams from the United States, Australia, and currently the host team in Great Britain, was hired this summer by Athletics Director Mal Moore.

In addition to Pursley, Alabama will be represented in swimming competition by current Tide swimmer Kristel Vourna, competing for Greece, and former Bama swimmer Alrene Semeco, swimming for Venezuela.

Vourna is a national record-holder. This will be the third Olympics for Semeco.

Alabama won national championships in the past year in four sports, but three of them – football, women's golf, and softball – are not Olympic sports. Gymnastics is a high-profile sport in The Games, but Olympics-level gymnasts are ordinarily younger, not from the college ranks.

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