Man Killer: John Akii-Bua and the Hurt of 400m Hurdles
At the weekend we got to witness a rare moment in Irish Sport, Thomas Barr became the World University Games Champion. He fought off competition from all over world in one of the true Global sports, Athletics.
If you haven’t yet watched it, please enjoy sensibly.
When he competes he does so over the 400m Hurdles event. To run the event in the 48.65 seconds that Thomas does you need raw speed, strength, endurance and technical ability over the hurdles.
That’s just the physical.
There is a reason the event is known as the Man-killer. As athletes start to tire in the home straight, they still have to negotiate hurdles successfully at speed, all the while their screaming muscles are filling with Lactic Acid. This is no easy feat, this is no stroll in the park. They need vast reserves of mental strength.
There is no way to truly appreciate how hard this race is and how difficult the training must be to get Thomas in the supreme shape he is in.
There is really only one way to give you a glimpse of the toil, suffering and sheer talent needed to succeed and that is the Documentary above.
It is the story of John Akii-Bua, the first Ugandan Olympic Gold Medalist. Akii Bua, who was one of 43 children, rose to prominense as a 110m hurdler but after transferring to the longer event under the guidance of the great Malcolm Arnold, he shocked the World by winning Olympic Gold in Munich in 1972. He do so in World Record time (47.82 seconds) from lane one of all places.
This film will give you a great insight into firstly the man John Akii Bua, then the training it takes to succeed over 400m Hurdles and thirdly it will show why the story is called “An African Tragedy”