The Pan African Games – Durham, North Carolina, 1971: John Akii-Bua Crashes Hurdles Africa Record


The capability crowd of 34000 (two-day complete was 52000) at Duke College’s Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham in North Carolina, attending the USA-Pan Africa track-and-field meet (sometmes refererred to as USA versus the World meet), was then the most important ever to attend a monitor meet in america’ South (southeastern) area. The July 16-17, 1971 meet was the world’s first worldwide competitors. A unified African workforce along with different nations (14 nations altogether) versus a USA staff was a singular and unprecedented occasion. The onlookers turned the most important and most jubilant monitor viewers in 1971. The chosen 38 African athletes included Olympic legends Charles Asati, Mohamed Gamoudi, Kipchoge Keino, and Amos Biwott.

John Akii-Bua

Within the 400 meters-hurdles, the outcomes have been: John Akii-Bua, Uganda (; Melvin Bassett, an area resident of Durham (50.7); William Koskei, Kenya (51.2); Ron Rondeau, Miami, FL (52.9).

William “Invoice” Koskei who as an immigrant had beforehand competed for Uganda and had within the intermediate hurdles gained the silver medal for Uganda on the 1970 Commonwealth Video games held in Edinburgh, returned to Kenya quickly after Idi Amin’s tumultuous January 1971 coup d’etat. An injured Akii-Bua who had completed fourth on the similar Commonwealth venue, now in Durham proved to be Africa’s prime 400mh athlete. Akii-Bua in slicing a full second off the Africa document, and establishing a world-leading time of the yr, had additionally astoundingly crushed the runner up Rondeau by almost two seconds! And all this in excessive summer time temperatures (higher 80’s to decrease 90’s Fahrenheit), excessive humidity, and on a just lately resurfaced monitor. After African’s had gained 5 monitor gold medals on the 1968 Olympic Video games in Mexico, rumors and suspicions had surfaced that Africans have been advantaged by the high-altitude circumstances that they have been supposedly accustomed to. However the Durham meet of a low-altitude surroundings proved that climate circumstances weren’t main elements in African athletes triumphing towards these of different nations.

Ultimately, 20 year-old up-and-coming John Akii-Bua of Uganda turned the one African to determine a big report on the meet and after the 400 meters-hurdles victory he even thought-about enrolling at North Carolina Central College the place he would maybe work with famend black American athletics coach Leroy T.Walker and in addition additional his athletics ambitions at Wallace Wade Stadium. Akii was an anomaly in that he was a short-distance runner among the many overwhelmingly middle- and lengthy distance-running African athletes on the meet. He gained the popularity.

“Akii-Buwa [sic], a policeman from Uganda, set an African document of in profitable the second gold medal for the African males. His time was additionally the world’s greatest mark this yr, and after watching his flawless hurdling type, American and African monitor officers predicted he will probably be a robust contender for a gold medal in Munich subsequent yr” (Related Press: 1971).

However such heartening feedback relating to Akii-Bua’s victory on this technical occasion that was not often related to Africans on the worldwide scale have been uncommon, and the media primarily targeting Africa’s prowess within the center and lengthy distances. The turning a blind eye to and the making of Akii-Bua’s efficiency appear much less vital was the notable absence from the competitors of the American champion Ralph Mann (one other Olympic medal prospect) who would have ably challenged Akii-Bua. Mann was competing in Europe.

Kipchoge Keino and Different Outcomes

Media accolades ignored Akii-Bua, heaping praises on Kenyan victors and legends Kipchoge Keino, Robert Ouko, and Ben Jipcho; and on Ethiopian long-distance runner Miruts Yifter who had gained within the 10000m, however had dropped out of the 5000m on the finish of the penultimate lap whereas main, in considering that it was the final lap. The 10000m witessed diminutive 5’2″ Yifter ending in 28:53.1, adopted by Frank Shorter (28:53.9) of Florida Monitor Membership, third was Gary Bjorklund (30:05.three) of Minnesota, and fourth was Ethiopia’s Wahib Nasrech (30:34.three).

Within the 1500m, Kenya’s Kipchoge Keino, trying to crush the world document (with the assistance of 800m Kenyan runner Naftali Bon operating as a driving rabbit), moved almost 1 / 4 of a lap away from the highest difficult pursuers, profitable in three:37.5, forward of runner up and fellow countryman Benjamin Wabura Jipcho (three:43.9) who had gained the 3000 meters-steeplechase simply an hour earlier! Third within the 1500m was US Military’s Jim Crawford (, fourth was John Baker (three:55.2) of Sports activities Worldwide. Africa’s 3000m steeplechase report holder Jipcho had gained in eight:45.2, twenty meters forward of Oregon Monitor Membership’s Mike Manley (eight:48.three), Sid Sink (9:00.2) of Ohio positioned third, and Muhammad Yohanes (9:06.2) of Ethiopia.

Within the 800m, Kenya’s Robert Ouko gained in 1:46.7, a meter forward of Juris Luzins of US Marines; with Ken Swenson (USA report holder) of the US Military positioned third. Ouko would enroll in North Carolina Central College, he can be coached by legendary African American Leroy T.Walker who turned the primary black to teach a United States males’s Olympic monitor workforce and to function president of the USA Olympic Committee. Walker died in Durham, in April 2012, aged 93. On the 1972 Olympic Video games, Robert Ouko can be fourth within the 800m and be a part of the 4x400m Kenya Olympic gold medal profitable group. Julius Sang, additionally a part of Kenya’s gold-winning workforce was additionally enrolled at NCCU alongside Ouko

Another notable winners on the meet included USA’s John Smith (Southern California Striders) who trimphed in each the 200m (20.7) and 400m (45.7); Rayleane Boyle (23.1) of Australia within the 200m forward of runner-up and African legend Alice Annum (23.2) of Ghana.

General, the USA males’s group beat the visiting groups by 111-78, and the USA ladies overwhelmingly gained simply.

Works Cited

Related Press. “Pan African Video games Shut,” in “The Robesonian” (July 18, 1971).

Source by Jonathan Musere