08/06/2012 09:11 EDT | Updated 10/06/2012 05:12 EDT

Grenada erupts in joy, declares holiday after James wins country's first-ever Olympic medal

ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada - The island of Grenada has erupted in celebration over the small Caribbean nation's first-ever Olympic medal.

People danced, cheered and waved flags in the streets Monday after Kirani James won the gold medal in the 400-meter run with a time of 43.94 seconds. Hundreds had gathered at outdoor viewing sites to watch the race.

The 19-year-old is the first non-U.S. runner to break the 44-second barrier in the race. His time is the fastest ever by a Caribbean athlete in the 400-meter.

The government of Grenada has declared Tuesday afternoon a holiday to mark the feat. Prime Minister Tillman Thomas calls James' victory an inspiration to the country.