John Akii-Bua

John Akii-Bua

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

Akii-Bua started his athletic career as a hurdler on the short distance, but coached by British-born coach Malcolm Arnold, he was introduced to the 400 m hurdles [ IAAF, June 5, 2008] : Inzikuru to return to action in Akii Bua CAA Grand Prix] . 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. A spectator handed him a Ugandan flag, and Akii-Bua accepted it and ran around the track with it unfurled, beginning the victor's 'lap of honour' tradition.Fact|date=March 2007. He missed the 1976 Olympics and a show down with American rival Edwin Moses due to a boycott of African nations including Uganda.

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, 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 before returning to Uganda and becoming a coach. [ The John Akii-Bua Story: an African Tragedy] , documentary by Dan Gordon, BBC2 10th August 2008]

Akii-Bua died a widower, at the age of 47, survived by 11 of his children. He was given a state funeral .

His nephew is international footballer David Obua.


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