John Akii-Bua: Attempt to Smash the Hurdles World Record in Africa and the Renaming of Stanley Road

John Akii-Bua of Uganda was promoted through the dictator Idi Amin Dada to Assistant Inspector from the Police Pressure and also the primary Kampala road named after famous Welsh-American adventurer-soldier-explorer-journalist Henry Morton Stanley was re-named through the dictator to “Akii-Bua Road.” It was only several weeks after Akii had reduced the 400 meters-hurdles world record to 47.82 seconds in the Olympic games in Munich at the begining of September 1972. Among a number of other things, Henry Stanley is famous for exalting Uganda because the “Gem of Africa.” Indeed, Henry Stanley would quite frequently declare or imply he was the initial to connect the word to Uganda.

“… ‘Pearl of Africa’… I applied that… term to Uganda… Many… travelers… take into account the word by adducing the fertility from the soil and the range of its products however the term aptly illustrates the highest worth of Uganda due to its populousness, the intelligence of their people, its proper position for commerce, as well as for distributing Christianity–which allow it to be pre-eminently an appealing colony for any buying and selling and civilizing nation like ours [England]” (Stanley 1895: 719-720).

In The month of january 1973, 23 year-old Akii-Bua, still fresh from Munich but still heavily celebrated across the country, was now in Nigeria when confronted with a fired up high capacity crowd prepared to witness the performance from the first African to ever win and set up a world history in this technical and grueling event. The VIPs who attended the track event incorporated Nigeria’s president General Yakubu Gowon. The 400 meters-hurdles that needs speed, timing, and jumping over continues to be known as the “man-killer.”

On The month of january eleventh in Lagos in the Second All-Africa Games, inside a 400mh semi-final heat, a relaxed Akii required his some time and still won in 50.7. He was very certain that, despite the lack of the very best first class competitors he had faced in the Olympic games, he’d have really damaged their own world record if he’d trained with your time and effort and also the technique. He remarked, “I ran six hurdles having a 13-strides pattern after which cut lower to 14-15 strides within the last 200 meters… at full speed, I’d have damaged the 48 seconds mark” (AAP-Reuters: 1973).

Akii-Bua would also condition he had learned a lot about technique and perfectly timing the hurdles from his encouraging friend and hurdling ace David (Dave) Hemery of england who’s considered among the best hurdlers ever. In 1968 in the Olympic games in Mexico City, Hemery established a global record (48.12) within the finals from the 400mh. Hemery finished nearly another in front of the silver medallist Gerhard Hennige of West Germany. Hemery was third in the Olympic games in Munich. In Lagos, Akii also told he was struck with malaria, six several weeks prior to the Olympic games in Munich (AAP-Reuters: 1973).

The finals’ selection for that 400mh in Lagos particularly incorporated William (Bill) Koskei of Kenya who being an immigrant had competed for Uganda and particularly won a silver medal in case in the 1970 Commonwealth Games locked in Edinburgh. Akii was 4th then. However in 1971 in Durham in New York in a USA versus Africa meet, Akii in winning beat Koskei yet others and established a global-leading duration of 49 seconds. It had been then the athletics world eyed the apparently relaxed and smooth-sailing hurdler Akii-Bua like a top contender for that gold within the forthcoming Olympic games in Munich. Koskei seemed to be considered being an Olympic medal hope, but he’d in Munich finish 4th within the first round heat, and therefore be eliminated. Akii, however, won in most his three heats, such as the finals by which he set a global record.

Unlike the Munich Olympic games by which Akii was attracted within the disadvantageous innermost “tight” lanes, in Lagos in the finals, he was put into a middle lane–that is simpler to travel through. The gun discontinued in Lagos and Akii burst out fast. He appeared to slightly relax and slow lower following the last corner, then all of a sudden get speed. Days later, Akii would remark he indeed slowed lower however that as he researched within the is the jubilant and colorful uniformed dignitaries that incorporated the Nigerian President Gowon, he made the decision to operate faster. He weren’t required to since he was well in front of all of those other field. Akii-Bua won within an amazing 48.54 seconds. Though Akii hadn’t achieved his high objective of obliterating their own world record, time will be the world’s very best in the 400mh in 1973, also it remains one of the better ever ran on African soil. Nearly two seconds behind, William Koskei was second (50.22) inside a photo-finish with Silver Ayoo (50.25) of Uganda who won the bronze medal.

Overall, Uganda was 4th in the All-Africa Games in Lagos, which performance where the nation won many medals (solely in track-and-field and boxing) continues to be Uganda’s best ever at these Games. Uganda were left with 8 gold medals, 6 silver medals, and 6 bronze medals, placing Uganda 4th overall behind Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya, correspondingly.

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