John Akii-Bua, Uganda’s first Olympic champion, was supposedly born in a family of 43 children, and his father had 8 different wives. Several of his siblings were also good athletes, including his brother Lawrence Ogwang. Akii-Bua himself started out as a high hurdler, but failed to make the 1968 Olympics. He then tried out the longer hurdles race as well, qualifying for both events at the 1970 Commonwealth Games. In Edinburgh, he fared much better in the 400 m, and placed 4th. He switched focus to this discipline, and soon became a top runner, winning his event at a 1971 USSR-USA country match as a guest runner. At the Munich Olympics, he was unlucky to draw lane 1 in the final, yet managed to break the world record and win the gold in 47,82.
Akii-Bua was unable to defend his title, as Uganda boycotted the 1976 Olympics like most African nations, and he was past his prime at the 1980 Games, when he was eliminated in the semi-finals. By then, he was living in West Germany, having fled Uganda following the overthrow of dictator Idi Amin. He returned to his native country in 1983, and eventually started working for the police, where he had also worked after his Olympic title.
Personal Bests: 400 – 45.82 (1976); 400H – 47.82 (1972).