Grenada is a country which is used to punching above its weight on the sporting stage.

The Caribbean nation, known as the "Isle of Spice", is only home to around 110,000 people but claimed a sensational Olympic gold in the men's 400 metres at London 2012 as Kirani James raced home.

At the Commonwealth Games, Grenada has won a gold and a bronze at each of the last two editions, with the island capable of producing athletes who can mix it with the world's best.

James, who also owns silver and bronze Olympic medals, World Championship gold and the 400m Commonwealth title from Glasgow 2014, will not be appearing at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

But the country can also look to the likes of decathlete Lindon Victor, who won gold at Gold Coast 2018, and Anderson Peters who is the reigning world champion in the men's javelin and a Commonwealth bronze medallist.

"We always value these international competitions to showcase the talent that we have bred locally," said Kwame Hypolite, the Grenada Chef de Mission for Birmingham 2022.

"In addition to that we can market Grenada. 

"So everyone out there, they are able to know that this small island, with just over 100,000 people, is able to produce world-class athletes and is able to compete at that level.

Kirani James is a superstar for Grenada after his Olympic gold at London 2012 ©Getty Images
Kirani James is a superstar for Grenada after his Olympic gold at London 2012 ©Getty Images

"We're always happy to have our athletes performing to showcase what we have as Grenadians at international level. 

"When these athletes are able to go through the rounds and make a final, matching up to the larger Commonwealth countries, we know definitely that we are doing something well at home.

"And that acts as an impetus for other athletes to move forward in the future." 

Grenada is aiming to take 14 athletes to Birmingham 2022 in athletics, boxing, swimming and cycling, although James' absence is disappointing amid the close proximity to the World Athletics Championships in Oregon.

James' achievements are particularly impressive as he was diagnosed with Graves' disease, a condition which affects the thyroid, five years ago.

The disease leads to weight loss and a lack of energy, and James must now take medication for the rest of his life.

His legendary status in Grenada is already confirmed, however, with the country's athletics stadium re-named after him in 2017 when he was just 24.

"Kirani is a household name, we're always so proud of him," said Hypolite.

"We're not just proud of his achievements, but knowing what he had to battle in terms of his sickness, and maintaining his performances at the senior level.

"At home he always has that level of support behind him, going into any major championship."

Kirani James races in Grenada are always a national event.

Lindon Victor won the decathlon title at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games  ©Getty Images
Lindon Victor won the decathlon title at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images

"Everything stops for about five to ten minutes, prior to the race and even after," Hypolite added.

"And not just when Kirani performs.

"When any of our athletes perform, that's the level of support behind them at international level."

The success of James, and athletes such as Victor and Peters, have encouraged more to become involved in athletics in a country where cricket is a huge sport.

"Our history at the Commonwealth Games speaks for itself," said Hypolite.

"It's an event which carries the same level of prestige in Grenada as the other championships.

"At the last Games, with Lindon Victor medalling in the decathlon, that was something that was really celebrated. We were able to make our mark at Commonwealth level.

"We've seen an improvement in the number of athletes who are interested in the sport.

"In addition to that, the athletics team that we have this year is a nice mixture of athletes at senior professional level, and also a number of people who are the future, to replace some of those individuals.

"The team comprises of our experienced professionals but also some breakthrough athletes."

Grenada debuted at the Commonwealth Games in 1970 but did not compete for three editions in a row from 1986 onwards.

The island is known for its nutmeg and could soon be home to a competition-sized swimming pool, with talks on its construction underway.

 Sport's importance to Grenada is highlighted by how the Government acted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Anderson Peters is the reigning men's javelin world champion  ©Getty Images
Anderson Peters is the reigning men's javelin world champion ©Getty Images

"Because we did not have great impact in the terms of the number of our cases, and our Government must be commended because we went for months without having any active cases in Grenada, we were able to allow athletes to quickly get back into training and competition," Hypolite said.

"Even prior to that, the Government and the Olympic Committee worked together to have athletes who had to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games out training in the first phase of the pandemic, to continue their preparation.

"So there was that collaborative effort at the Olympic Committee, along with the Ministry of Sport.

"Following that, and it came back to the status that we had in terms of cases, the Government allowed more athletes to get back out there into training and preparation.

"The athletes who were based outside of Grenada, some of them returned home to continue their training and eventually they were able to get back into things much quicker than we expected." 

Hypolite is the first vice-president of the Grenada Paralympic Committee and was Chef de Mission at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

He has also served on the Disciplinary Committee at the Grenada Football Association and as secretary for the St David Track Blazers, one of the island's leading athletics clubs which has produced stars such as Peters.

All of these sporting roles are performed on a voluntary basis as Hypolite is also a educator.

"At the end of the day I'm not doing this for myself," he said.

Grenada punches above its weight on the international sporting stage  ©Getty Images
Grenada punches above its weight on the international sporting stage ©Getty Images

"For me it's all voluntary, we're doing this for athlete development and we're serving the athletes. 

"We're enabling the athletes to give their best performances.

"I've been navigating these roles and you learn a lot, you meet a lot of people who you can take something from. 

"I always use it as an opportunity to learn, to see how we can improve things in Grenada. 

"How can we do better for our athletes?"