Things To Do In Dallas With A 5 Year-Old John Akii-Bua: Former All-Africa Decathlon Record Holder, and Still Uganda’s National Record Holder

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John Akii-Bua: Former All-Africa Decathlon Record Holder, and Still Uganda’s National Record Holder

On Saturday, October 9, 1971, to mark the eighth anniversary of Uganda’s Independence Day from the political fumbling of the British, John Akii-Bua broke the Ugandan national record in the decathlon. Akii-Bua is most famous for his gold medal at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics in a world record time (47.82), but what most people miss is that his Independence Day decathlon performance still officially holds the national decathlon record. Akii’s 6933 decathlon points that day also became an African decathlon record. The record is confirmed by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF).

The decathlon is a competition of 10 disciplines spread over two days. The events are 100 and 400 meter sprints, long jump, shot put, high jump, 110 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500 meter metric mile.

Larbi Bouraada of Algeria set the African record (8332 points) in 2012 in Ratingen. This record was taken from him when he tested positive for a banned substance. But his earlier African record (8302 points) in the same city on 17 July 2011 is still recognized as an African record. The most recent world record in the decathlon (9039 points) was set on July 23, 2012 by Oregonian Ashton Eaton in his home state of Eugene at the US Olympic Trials.

Akii-Bua was an enthusiastic and versatile athletic master who dabbled in various sports. In addition to athletics, he also played football; and he didn’t even start hurdles until he was 17 and in the National Police in Nsambya near Kampala. The police coach was Jorem Ochana, a policeman who held the African record for the 440 yard hurdles. A year later, Akii impressively ran the 110m hurdles in 14.3. He was soon placed under new national coach Malcolm Arnold of Britain. Arnold encouraged Akii-Bu to focus on the hurdles, where he seemed to belong, and he advanced to the 400-meter hurdles, partly because of his endurance.

In the Akii-Bua era, the decathlon was modest in Africa and rarely competed for or trained for. Although he started competing seriously in sports in his late teens, the multi-talented Akii-Bua and the well-built Akii created a pioneering leadership of inspiration for many athletes from Uganda and beyond. His record performance in the grass decathlon in Kampala in October 1971 included the 100 meters in 10.9, the 400 meters in 47.2, the long jump in 6.65 meters (21′ 94/5″) and the high jump in 1, 90 meters which is 6. ‘ 24/5″ (Editions Rencontre SA: 1978). The previous year at the Commonwealth Games (1970) in Edinburgh, his fourth place in the 400m hurdles while injured gave Akii a boost of confidence. In 1971 John Akii-Bua set a world lead of 49 seconds in the 400 meters hurdles. He seemed unstoppable! And it was a marked improvement on the previous All-Africa record of 49.7 set by 20-year-old Akii in June 1971.

Another notable Ugandan artist in the decathlon is Teddy Sondota-Ruge (Teddy Sondota), who studied at the University of North Texas and set a personal record of 6809 points on June 1, 2003 in Dallas. 11.84 in the 100m, 6.20m in the long jump, 11.53m in the shot put, 1.92m in the high jump, 52.19 in the 400m, 15.09 in the 110m hurdles, 37.94 in the discus, 4.37 m in the pole vault, 58.01 in the javelin, 4:57.42 in the 1500 meters. Ruge still holds the Ugandan national pole vault record of 4:57 meters set in Abilene, Texas on May 15, 1997.

At the eighth All-Africa Games held in Abuja, Nigeria in late 2003, Teddy Sondota finished fifth in the decathlon (6476 points). His performances were: 11.74 (100m), 6.48m (long jump), 12.50m (shot put), 1.85m (high jump), 53.52 (400m), 15.09 (110-meter hurdles), 39.72m (discus), 4:00m (pole vault), 51.82m (javelin), 5:33.56 (1500m).

Works Cited

Edition Rencontre SA (1978) “For J. Akii-Bua (UGA), obstacles are no obstacle to lasting success”: Lausanne Photos Werek Syndication International, Italy.

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