Time for heroes

I don’t tend to watch much TV, although it’s generally on as background noise. But tonight I started watching one documentary – Kill it, Skin it, Wear it – about the fur trade and then got sidetracked (OK, I couldn’t bear watching animals being skinned while I was having my tea) by a BBC2 documentary about the Ugandan hurdler John Akii-Bua, who won gold at the 1972 Olympics, breaking the world record in the process.

The fur documentary was OK, a bit simplistic. The Akii-Bua one was phenomenal, really fascinating. For me, partly because I’ve been to Uganda a couple of times and it brought back memories, but more so because of what it told you about the man and how much he put into achieving his Olympic dream, and then how politics – Africa’s boycott of the 1976 Olympics; Amin’s genocide and the subsequent Tanzanian invasion; being forced to flee to a Kenyan refugee camp – stopped him realising his full potential. He was rescued from the camp by an executive from Puma and given a job at their German HQ. When he died he was made a national hero and all the MPs in the Ugandan Parliament pledged money to support his 11 orphaned children. Only 8 of them paid up.

I must admit, I was a bit bored with this year’s Olympics before it even started (if I see one more news item about smog…) but even if you’re not into athletics, this documentary really brings home to you just how much people put into their chosen sport. And puts the trials and tribulations of the likes of Dwain Chambers somewhat into perspective! If you didn’t see it, try to track it down. Or read this Guardian piece.
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