Top Grenadian Athlete Battles Graves Disease

Author  Edited from CMC

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Former World and Olympic 400 meters champion Kirani James of Grenada has revealed his battle with Graves disease, but says he is looking forward to resuming competition in earnest following a year-long break.

James KiraniLast month, the 24-year-old competed for the first time since April 2017 when he won his favorite event at Racers Grand Prix here.

“I found out I had Graves disease and for people who don’t know what that’s about, it’s a disease that affects your thyroid,” James explained.

“And when it overacts it affects your hormones, speeds up your metabolism, weight loss, muscle weaknesses, shortness of breath, a lot of symptoms. Sometimes it varies. So I had to see doctors and be on medication.”


Graves is an autoimmune disease which leads to a “generalized over activity of the entire thyroid gland,” according to the American Thyroid Association. It can in some instances be life-threatening.

James is one of the leading 400 meters runners in the world, having won gold at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu to become the youngest-ever champion in the event, before topping the podium again at the London 2012 Olympics.

He also won silver at the Rio Olympics four years later, but was ruled out of last year’s London World Championships through illness.

Having not run competitively since last year’s Drake Relays, James said he was focused on making a full recovery and enhancing his preparation.


“(I am) trying to improve my health and preparation day by day,” he said. “It’s just a blessing to be here and competing.

“It’s been a long road, so I am just glad to be back. And I just want to thank the Racers Grand Prix for inviting me and giving me an opportunity to come back and open up to see where I am at. I am just happy to be back.”

James showed no signs of his time away from the track, chasing down American Fred Kerley to win the 400 meters in a new meet record time of 44.35.