Kriss Akabusi

PUBLISHED: 15:24 15 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:41 20 February 2013

Kriss Akabusi

Kriss Akabusi

Olympic athlete Kriss Akabusi lived in Hampshire for over 20 years. Here he tells us what it's like to be an Olympian and what he misses most about the county

Kriss Akabusi is an enthusiastic chap and his energy is contagious. He is famous for his achievements in athletics where his greatest triumphs include a Gold Medal in the European Championships (1990), a Gold Medal for relay in the World Championships in Tokyo (1991) and three Olympic medals in 1984 and 1992.
I loved every moment of being an Olympian, he says with a huge grin. I especially remember Los Angeles in 1984 as it was my first Games. I had watched the Olympics when I was a child and I dreamed of being on that podium one day.
Kriss was born in London to Nigerian parents in November 1958. He joined the British Army in 1975 and had a successful career in the Royal Corps of Signals before switching to the Army Physical Training Corps in 1981. His final rank was that of Warrant Officer Class 2.

Suddenly I was in LA...I was probably a bit starry-eyed but I didnt lose my focus on the task. It was my chance to do my country, my club, my coach and my friends and family proud.

Home ground
He began his international athletics career in 1983. Having moved to Hampshire in the early 1980s to relocate his young family nearer his posting he also joined the local athletics club.
It was run by a real character called Mike Smith, he recalls. Hed trained international athletes and had a great reputation. I joined him as a county standard athlete and within a year or so was representing my country.
Suddenly I was in LA and part of the team that included legends like Steve Cram, Steve Ovett and Daley Thompson. I was probably a bit starry-eyed but I didnt lose my focus on the task. It was my chance to do my country, my club, my coach and my friends and family proud.
In those testing circumstances, an individual either rises to the occasion or crumbles under the pressure.
Kriss went to take an Olympic silver medal in the 4 X 400-meter relay.
The very moment I crossed the finish line my life changed forever. Suddenly I was a household name.

Adoring fans
Krisss face, reputation and indeed his hearty laugh became famous across the country. He loved people stopping him in the street and chatting as if they knew him.
It really meant a lot to me. I was happy to chat with people because I didnt realise how many of them had been supporting me until I started meeting them as I went about my business. Their support was brilliant.
Support extended to an MBE awarded by Queen Elizabeth II in 1992 in recognition of his services to the country through athletics. In the same year he was also awarded an Honorary degree from the University of Southampton.

"I was a little kid, always being told by my teachers to sit down and stop running about. It's ironic I have made my career out of doing just that."

Family and fame
He spent most of the time with his family in Warsash, Southampton, but also had to train abroad for part of the year. California became his home between November and May. It sounds a glamorous place to train.
It may sound glamorous, but it was hard work. I did like the lifestyle over there, but I was always ready to come home. My daughters would join me and spend time there too which was always great.
Ashanti, Krisss elder daughter, moved to California a few years ago and has a successful career in internet technology. Shakira, his younger daughter, is now 21 years old. She is currently touring in High School Musical 2 as Taylor, one of the lead characters. Kriss is fiercely proud of
his girls.
They are both very different: both have carved their own niche. Shakira was always the performer of the family. From an early age she would entertain us with singing and dancing. Ashanti was the family organiser: very keen and very good at getting things done.
When he lived in Southampton, the family loved Victoria Country Park, Hamble Park and estuary and their favourite place to visit was Marwell Zoo. It was just great to see such exotic animals a few minutes drive from our house. Were so lucky to have such a great zoo in the county.
Of course, the great beauty of living in Hampshire was having the New Forest on your doorstep. We spent so much time hiking and walking the dogs through the forest.
I really missed that when we moved away. The water too is something I miss. I never had a boat myself, but used to go out on friends boats.

Keeping on track
For the last 12 years Kriss has run his own motivational-speaking company. One lasting benefit of being an Olympian is that it made Krisss move to media and motivational speaking a little easier because of his celebrity status.
When I was a little kid I was always being told by my teachers to sit down, stop talking and stop running around. Its ironic that I have made my career out of doing just that. I ran around for all those years and now I get paid to talk. It has been great to find another passion within me that people are willing to pay for. I do keynote speeches, award ceremonies, and motivational talks, all with my own brand of entertainment and using good old-fashioned storytelling. People love a good old story.
Kriss has traveled all over the world making his speeches. He notes South Africa, Europe, and Thailand as some of his favourite destinations. However he is really a home body, preferring his own home (now in the Chilterns) to the endless nights in hotel rooms.

Medal winner Krisss top achievements
Olympics: 1984 silver 4x400m, 1992
Bronze 400m hurdles, bronze 4x400m.
Worlds: 1987 silver 4x400m, 1991 bronze 400m hurdles, gold 4x400m. European: 1986 bronze 4x400m, 1990
Gold 400m hurdles, gold 4x400m.
Commonwealth: 1986 gold 4x400m, 1990 gold 400m hurdles.

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