Julius Achon

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Julius Achon
Personal information
Nationality Ugandan
Born (1976-12-12) 12 December 1976 (age 37)
Residence United States[1]
Years active 1994–2005
Height 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Weight 55 kilograms (121 lb)
Sport
Country  Uganda
Sport Track
Event(s)
College team GMU
Achievements and titles
World finals 1994 World Junior Championships: 1500m - Gold
Regional finals 1995 All-Africa Games: 1500m - Bronze
Personal best(s) 800 metres: 1:44.55[2]
1500 metres: 3:35.68[2]
Mile: 3:55.38[2]
3000 metres: 8:04.44[2]
5000 metres: 13:56.89[2]
Updated on 27 September 2012.

Julius Achon (born 12 December 1976) is a Ugandan retired middle distance runner who specialised in the 800 metres and 1500 metres. Achon currently holds the 800m American Collegiate Record with a time of 1:44.55 set in 1996 as a student at George Mason University. He competed in both the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics.

He is also the founder of the Achon Uganda Children's Fund, based in Portland, Oregon that raises money to build schools in Uganda.

Early life[edit]

Ugandan districts affected by Lord's Resistance Army

At the age of 10, Achon began to run, inspired by stories of John Akii-Bua, the Ugandan 400m hurdler who won Olympic gold in 1972. When he was 12, Achon was abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army, which was waging a civil war, and taken to a camp 100 miles away. He escaped and a year later entered and won his first official race, which earned him a place at the district championships in Lira. To get to the stadium 42 miles away, Achon had to run for six hours. The following day he won the 800m, 1500m and 3000m.[3]

His success at the district championships gave him a place at the national championships, where he won the 1500m in 4:09.52, watched by Christopher Banage Mugisha. He offered Achon a scholarship to an elite government-aided school in Kampala, which Achon took up.[3]

Athletic achievements[edit]

At the 1994 World Junior Championships, Achon became the first Ugandan to win gold,[3] running the 1500m in 3:39.78. Victory was followed by offers of scholarships from a number of US colleges and he chose George Mason University. In 1996 he won the 800m NCAA title, setting a new US college record of 1:44.55. Later in the year, he ran in the heats of the 1500m at the Atlanta Olympics.[3]

Achon went on to compete at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where he reached the semifinal of the 1500m but did not participate in the Athens Games after his mother was killed by the LRA.[4]

A car crash in May 2007 put an end to his running career.[4] He had been intending to run the 5000m at the Ugandan National Athletics Championships in July 2007.[5]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Uganda
1994 World Junior Championships Lisbon, Portugal 1st 1500 m 3:39.78
1994 World Junior Championships Lisbon, Portugal 4th 800 m 1:48.85
1995 All-Africa Games Harare, Zimbabwe 3rd 1500 m 3:40.83
2001 World Indoor Championships Lisbon, Portugal 8th 1500 m 3:53.03
2002 African Championships Radès, Tunisia 6th 1500 m 3:43.00

Coaching career[edit]

In 2003, John Cook, who coached Achon at George Mason, offered him a post as assistant coach[3] with Alberto Salazar's Nike Oregon Project, pacing elite runners such as Galen Rupp, who competed at the Beijing Olympics.[4] In 2010, budget cuts at Nike meant Achon lost his job but he began working part-time at the Nike store on campus instead.[3]

Achon Uganda Children's Fund[edit]

Achon started providing for children orphaned by the civil war in Uganda in 2003 when he discovered 11 orphans sheltering under a bus. He took them to his parents' home near Lira, where his father agreed to let them stay, while Achon sent money back from Portugal where he was living and training. It only required $100 per month to feed them all.[3]

In 2007, Achon met Jim Fee in Portland, Oregon, and the charity was founded[6] with Fee as an unpaid advisor.[3] The purpose of the organisation is to improve access to health care, clean water and education.[6] Fee and Achon began fundraising to build a clinic in Awake[3] to treat malaria.[7] The Kristina Health Centre (KHC), named after his mother, opened in August 2012 and employs 12 staff.[1] Achon intends to buy an ambulance and extend the maternity ward.[1]

The next project for which Achon wishes to raise money is to build a school.[3] As of October 2012, the foundation is providing for 40 orphans, including some girls, to attend school, by paying for their tuition, school materials, food and other necessities.[1][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Odongo, Jacinta (21 October 2012). "Julius Achon: Legendary athlete who adopted his community". Daily Monitor. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e All-Athletics. "Profile of Julius Achon". 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kahn, Jennifer (November 2012). "Heart of Gold". Runner's World UK 20 (11): 72–79. 
  4. ^ a b c Hultine, Hannah (6 August 2008). "Julius Achon". Willamette Week. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Paralympic athletes prepare for upcoming games". The Washington Times. 1 July 2001. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Meyer, Cheryl (10 April 2012). "Olympic runner Julius Achon strives to help Uganda". Phoenix Forward. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Binder, Doug (25 March 2011). "Julian Achon's humanitarian work is making a difference". Track Focus. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 

External links[edit]