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British-Nigerian athlete, Kriss Akabusi (b. 1958), was in foster care and a children’s home as a child.

Kriss Akabusi was born Kezi Uchechukwu Duru Akabusi in London to Nigerian parents. When he was four, his parents returned to Nigeria but left Kriss and his younger brother in the United Kingdom.

Over the next few years we travelled from one foster placement to another, a deeply unsettling experience (BBC News).

Four years later, Akabusi was placed in a children’s home. It was a secure environment and a positive experience for him. He explains:

It was fantastic… people from all walks of life, very vibrant and colourful (Williams).

As a young person, Akabusi internalised the stigma associated with being in care. He viewed himself as ‘not normal’, or different “because normal to me was having a mum and dad and coming from a home you could call your own,” (Brealey). Now, as an adult, Akabusi believes his childhood experiences have positively shaped his character. 

My fortitude, ability to get on with it, ability to see the lighter side of life, embrace the moment, that has all come from a children’s home (Brealey).

In 1975, at the age of sixteen, Akabusi left care  Overwhelmed about facing the world on his own, he decided to join the army. There Akabusi found a mentor and role model in his sergeant. 

Having a positive role model to get you through the hard times is invaluable, as is being able to afford the first month’s rent on your own.

Long term support, knowing someone is there for you and feeling positive about the future is what will make the difference. Every child in and leaving care deserves this. 

In my case Sergeant Ian MacKenzie introduced me to athletics and, as they say, the rest is history (BBC News).

Akabusi became a professional athlete after leaving the army, representing Great Britain internationally. In the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, he won a silver medal in the relay race. He won a gold medal in the 400 meter hurdles at the 1990 European and Commonwealth Games. He set a new national record in the four hundred meter relay at the IAAF World Championships in Tokyo in 1991. Then, in the 1992 Olympics, Akabusi won two bronze medals in the hurdles and the relay.

Akabusi was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to British athletics in 1992. He has also been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Southampton

Akabusi has four children. He has two daughters from his first marriage, and a younger son and daughter from a second relationship. According to Akabusi, being a father to young children in while in your fifties brings life new meaning.

I have been very blessed. To have children that have come into my life at this stage of my life is wonderful (Brealey).

Since retiring from athletics, Akabusi has become a consultant, television personality, and motivational speaker. Akabusi encourages young people to ‘dream big and seize opportunities’ and embrace people who recognise their potential” (White).  

Akabusi is a proud supporter of children’s charities. He has served as an ambassador for CPL Group, a consortium of three UK not-for-profits supporting the education sector. As a young person, Akabusi benefited from a similar organisation which provides learning resources to schools, colleges, academies and universities. 

The work of the charity is far-reaching and has clearly touched the lives of so many students, who might not have benefited otherwise. The broad spectrum of initiatives supported, demonstrates the significant impact this funding is having (Flintham).


“Athlete Kriss Akabusi: Help tennagers leaving care.” BBC News, 9 March 2011.

Brealey, Sarah. “Kriss Akabusi: Overcoming his own hurdles.” Heart Matters.

“Kriss Akabusi on the Olympic medal that changed his life.” Olympic News, 29 July 2015.

Flintham, Jack. “Salford charity backed by Team GB Olympian that’s helping children during cost of living crisis”. Manchester Evening News, 14 Dec 2022.

White, Barry. “Athletics legend Kriss Akabusi’s words for Adcote students.” Oswestry and Border Counties Advertiser, 12th July 2022.

Williams, Holly. “My Secret Life: Kriss Akabusi, 53, former athlete.” Independent, 23 June 2012.

Image available here.