John Akii-Bua

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John Akii-Bua
Akii-Bua 1972.jpg
John Akii-Bua c. 1972
Personal information
Born 3 December 1949
Abako, Uganda
Died 20 June 1997 (aged 47)
Kampala, Uganda
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 77 kg (170 lb)
Sport
Sport Athletics
Event(s) 400 m, 400 m hurdles
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 400 m – 45.82 (1976)
400 mH – 47.82 (1972)

John Akii-Bua (3 December 1949 – 20 June 1997) was a Ugandan hurdler and the first Olympic champion from his country.

Biography[edit]

Akii-Bua was raised in a family of 43 children from one father and his eight wives.[1][2] Akii-Bua started his athletic career as a short-distance hurdler, but failed to qualify for the 1968 Olympics.[2] Coached by British-born athletics coach Malcolm Arnold, he was introduced to the 400 m hurdles.[3] After finishing 4th in the 1970 Commonwealth Games and running the fastest season time in 1971, he was not a big favourite for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, having limited competition experience. Nevertheless he won the final there, setting a world record time of 47.82 seconds despite running on the inside lane. He missed the 1976 Olympics and a show down with American rival Edwin Moses due to a boycott by African nations including Uganda.[2]

As a police officer, Akii-Bua was promoted by Ugandan president Idi Amin, and given a house, as a reward for his athletic prowess. When the Amin regime was collapsing, he fled to Kenya with his family, fearful that he would be seen as a collaborator; this was more likely because he was a member of the Langi tribe, many of whom were persecuted by Amin,[4] whereas Akii-Bua was cited by Amin as an example of a Langi who was doing well. However, in Kenya he was put into a refugee camp. From there, he was freed by his shoe-manufacturer Puma and lived in Germany working for Puma for 3–4 years. He represented Uganda once again at the 1980 Summer Olympics.[2] Later he returned to Uganda and became a coach.[5]

Akii-Bua died a widower, at the age of 47, survived by 11 of his children. He was given a state funeral.[3] His nephew is international footballer David Obua, and his brother Lawrence Ogwang competed in the long jump and triple jump at the 1956 Olympics.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Personalities at Olympics: Akii-Bua the Best in Vest". The New York Times. 4 Sep 1972. pp. 10 Section: Sports. He in one of a family of 43 children. His father had eight wives. 
  2. ^ a b c d e John Akii-Bua. sports-reference.com
  3. ^ a b IAAF, 5 June 2008: Inzikuru to return to action in Akii Bua CAA Grand Prix
  4. ^ "John Akii-Bua, 47 Is Dead; Ugandan Won Olympic Gold". The New York Times. 25 June 1997. p. D20. Amin was purging the Lango tribe, and Akii-Bua was Lango 
  5. ^ The John Akii-Bua Story: an African Tragedy, documentary by Dan Gordon, BBC2, 10 August 2008

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
United States Ralph Mann
Men's 400 m Hurdles Best Year Performance
1972 – 1973
Succeeded by
United States Jim Bolding