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John Akii-Bua

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John Akii-Bua

From Wikipedia

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

Having been raised in a large family, including 43 children, Akii-Bua started his athletic career as a hurdler on the short distance. Coached by British-born athletics coach Malcolm Arnold, he was introduced to the 400 m hurdles. 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, running the inside lane, setting a world record time of 47.82 seconds. He missed the 1976 Olympics and a show down with American rival Edwin Moses due to a boycott by 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.

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

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