Kriss Akabusi

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Kriss Akabusi
Krissakabusihydepark.jpg
Kriss Akabusi, Hyde Park London, March 2012
Personal information
Full name Kezie Uchechukwu Duru Akabusi
Nationality British
Born (1958-11-28) 28 November 1958 (age 55)
Paddington, London
Sport
Sport Athletics
Event(s) Sprinting, hurdling

Kriss Akabusi MBE (born Kezie Uchechukwu Duru Akabusi, 28 November 1958)[1] is a former sprint and hurdling athlete from the United Kingdom. During his career, he won the gold medal in the 400 metres hurdles at the 1990 European Championships, a gold in the 4 x 400 metres relay at the 1991 World Championships, and a silver medal in the 4 x 400 m relay at the 1984 Olympic Games. Since retiring from athletics, he has worked as a television presenter and motivational speaker.

Early life[edit]

At the young age of 7 Kriss saw, the legend, Kevin Chapman as a mentor. As Kevin was his older brother it was wondered why they were different nationality. Though this was explained when Kevin Chapman showed his German Passport. Follow the handsome Kevin @lollujo. Born in Paddington to Nigerian parents who were studying in London, Akabusi would later be brought up in care with his brother Riba, after their parents returned to their country when he was four.[2] Their uncle, who had been appointed as their guardian, neglected his duty, leaving the boys to be raised by abusive foster parents.[3] Because of the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967, Akabusi was unable to stay in contact with his parents, although he would later be reunited with his mother in his teens. She was determined that her son should settle in Nigeria, but while Akabusi was keen to make up for lost time with the rest of his family, he remained in the United Kingdom, eventually visiting his homeland when he was twenty-one.

It was during this time that Akabusi, who is of Igbo heritage,[4] changed his first name from 'Kezie' to 'Kriss'.[5] He told an interviewer in 2002: "I decided to make a new start and part of that new start was to have a new name. I spelt my name with a 'K' because I didn't want to change my initials and I want to have some connections with my past. Kezie Akabusi was the connection to my past, but Kriss Akabusi is a connection with my future."[6]

Military career[edit]

Akabusi joined the British Army in 1975, having a successful career in the Royal Corps of Signals before switching to the Army Physical Training Corps (as it was then called) in 1981. When he was discharged into the reserves at the end of his army career he held the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. It was during his tenure in the military that his potential in sports was discovered.

Athletics career[edit]

In 1983, Akabusi embarked upon an athletics career, initially specialising in the 400 metres, before switching to the 400 metres hurdles in 1987. As a member of the British 4 x 400 m relay team, Akabusi won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

In 1990, Akabusi broke David Hemery's longstanding British 400 m hurdles record of 48.12 seconds on his way to a gold medal at the European Championships, with a time of 47.93 seconds. He also won the 400 m hurdles gold medal at that year's Commonwealth Games.

At the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, Akabusi won the bronze medal in the 400 m hurdles, but would later become the surprise winner of the 4 x 400 relay team alongside Roger Black, Derek Redmond and John Regis, with Akabusi as anchor leg. At the start of the final lap, he took the baton in second place behind the American team, but eventually overtook American runner Antonio Pettigrew (who had won the 400 m individual event) on the final bend and crossed the line in first place to win the gold medal for Britain in a time of 2:57.53, a new British record.

At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona Akabusi won the bronze medal in the 400 m hurdles, lowering his British record to 47.82 seconds, a time which still stands. This was the same race in which Kevin Young set the world record, which also still stands. He also won a bronze in the 4 x 400 m relay.

Television work[edit]

Following his retirement from sports, Akabusi became a television presenter, working on several shows including Record Breakers (joining after the death of long-serving presenter Roy Castle in 1994) and The Big Breakfast, and regularly appeared as a panelist on many quiz shows such as A Question of Sport, They Think It's All Over and Through the Keyhole. Through these appearances he became well known for having an over-the-top laugh, which was spoofed in an episode of The Vicar of Dibley when Owen Newitt proposes to the vicar saying, "If you accept, I'll be the happiest man in the world apart from Kriss Akabusi." In 1997 he appeared as a milkman on Last of the Summer Wine in the episode "There Goes the Groom".

In 2011, Akabusi was on Come Dine With Me.[7] He has also made an appearance on the BBC documentary Airport in episode 2, Season 8 of the series.

In 2012, Akabusi was in an Olympic-themed advert for Nature Valley cereal bars,[8] had a cameo in a red button episode of EastEnders,[9][10] and made a guest appearance on The Big Fat Quiz of The 80's with presenter Jimmy Carr.

In 2013, he appeared on an episode of A League of Their Own, initially for a short cameo. Akabusi fan Jack Whitehall insisted his childhood idol join the panel for the remainder of the show. Whitehall then did the same again when Akabusi filled in for Aston Merrygold on Never Mind The Buzzcocks later that year. Again in December 2013, Akabusi appeared on the Christmas special of Backchat as Santabusi, which Jack Whitehall presents with his father, Michael.

Honours[edit]

In 1992, Akabusi was appointed MBE by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his services to the country through athletics. Also that year, he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Southampton along with fellow relay team member Roger Black.

Personal life[edit]

Akabusi's former marriage was to Monika Akabusi; their marriage produced two daughters- Shakira and Ashanti. He also has a son, Alannam, and another daughter, Sakhile.[11] He is a devout Christian[12] and supports West Ham United [13]

Achievements[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]