It's one of the great mysteries of sport in 2012.

How can a country the size of Waterbury, Conn., produce two of the planet's top 400-meter sprinters?

Something smells fishy, but that's exactly what's taking place in the Caribbean island of Grenada, population 110,000. That population includes Kirani James and Rondell Bartholomew, who are both running for medals in the 2012 London Olympics.

James, 19, and Bartholomew, 22, are strong medal contenders this summer and they were just kids when finding inspiration to become future running legends.

Close to 39 percent of the world's 204 countries have yet to win an Olympic medal, including Grenada, which came close in 2004 with a fourth place finish by Alleyne Francique during the 300 meters in Athens, according to Scott Cacciola of the Wall Street Journal.

That relatively impressive performance by Francique inspired James and Bartholomew to follow in his running steps.

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So how have they become top contenders?

It's all about the grass, the surface these athletes from Grenada train on.

Dr. Reed Ferber, professor of kinesiology at the University of Calgary, tells the Wall Street Journal that running on surfaces like asphalt and synthetic tracks normally are responsible for "more loading on the joints" which makes injury more likely.

Grenada didn't plan it this way, Mother Nature had a role. The country's only synthetic track was demolished by the horrors of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, so the grass was pretty much the only option to train.

It has its benefits according to Francuque, who now coaches track at Texas A&M. "Running on grass makes you stronger," he said. "The track will beat you up."

Francuque, done with his Olympic career, is using the Grenadian love of grass training to help his sprinters and it's paid off. Texas A&M has won three out of the last four national men's outdoor track-and-field team titles.

Although James and Bartholomew will be representing Greneda during the London Olympics, they both attended American universities at Alabama and South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, respectfully.

-- Follow Ben Maller on Twitter @BenMaller.

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