John Akii-Bua

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Non-starter • Other
Full nameJohn•Akii-Bua
Used nameJohn•Akii-Bua
Born3 December 1949 in Abako, Lango (UGA)
Died20 June 1997 in Kampala (UGA)
Measurements188 cm / 77 kg
NOC Uganda
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1


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).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1972 Summer Olympics Athletics UGA John Akii-Bua
400 metres Hurdles, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1976 Summer Olympics Athletics UGA John Akii-Bua
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Uganda DNS
1980 Summer Olympics Athletics UGA John Akii-Bua
400 metres Hurdles, Men (Olympic) 7 h2 r2/3
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Uganda 5 h2 r1/2

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1972 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony UGA John Akii-Bua

Olympic family relations

Special Notes