Kriss Akabusi, MBE – Olympic Athlete

Highly decorated medallist Kriss Akabusi won gold medals for 400 metres at the World, European and Commonwealth Championships, together with silver and bronze medals at the Olympic Games. He turned his life over to God at the European Athletics Championships in Edinburgh. Here’s how it happened.

Kriss is known for his almost constant smile. When others were down, he was the one who would come around with a smile to cheer them up. But his perpetual grin on the outside belied an unhappy heart inside. “Although I had become famous and now had money”, Kriss said, “I was not really happy. I found myself asking, ‘Why does all this not give me real happiness?’”

Like so many of us, Kriss was convinced that fame and wealth would be the answer to his dreams. He especially remembers the newspaper headlines in 1990 which read, ‘Kriss Akabusi is the 1990 European champion.’ Before all this happened, Kriss thought that he would be truly satisfied if he became an athletics champion. A gold medal at the European Championships to add to his silver and bronze medals from the Olympic Games sounded like just the tonic he needed to reach the pinnacle of happiness. Fame and wealth would accompany the title and he would have such a good time. But life is rarely as straightforward as we plan. Kriss says,

“When I went to the Edinburgh Games, in my hotel bedroom I found a book by my bedside. It was called the ‘Good News Bible’. I picked this book up and read some of the things in it. I read what Jesus Christ had said. But I said to myself, ‘All these things are too difficult for me to do.’” But that night he had a dream. “I found myself standing by a river. I heard a voice calling to me from the other side of the river. The voice said, ‘Come to Me, all you that are tired and finding things difficult, and I will give you rest.’ Do you know, I found myself shouting ‘Jesus!’ at the top of my voice. Then suddenly I awoke. I realised I was different now. I found I had real peace of mind.”

Being famous and having plenty of money didn’t bring the expected happiness and contentment he craved. Kriss says, “All I can say to is this – we are foolish when we think that to be famous and rich will make us happy! I have no worry about what tomorrow will bring. My life is in God’s hands now.

 

400m Hurdles:

1992 Olympic Games: Bronze

1991 European Cup: Gold

1991 World Championships: Bronze

1990 European Championships: Gold

1990 Commonwealth Games: Gold

1989 European Cup: Gold

1989 IAAF World Cup: Bronze

 

4 x 400m:

1992 Olympic Games: Bronze

1991 World Championships: Gold

1987 World Championships: Silver

1986 Commonwealth Games: Gold

1984 Olympic Games: Silver

 

Story by Ralph Burden

* photo attribution: Creative commons share-alike 3.0 unported     photo: Kriss Akabusi in Hyde Park, London, 2012

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