Our Co-founder Julius Achon was recently celebrated by the parliament in Uganda for his induction into the World Olympics Committee as an Olympian for Life.
He gave a speech at the ceremony about the five most important lessons he’s learned in his life.
We hope this brings you some inspiration today!
“Mine is a very long story, so I can’t tell it all. But a small Julius Achon from a small village called Awake in a small district called Otuke in a small country called Uganda, was recently awarded the honour of ‘Olympian for Life’. I am the only African on this list at the moment.
Let me put it on record here that the most important part of all these recognition is the joy I get from my people, who recognised my effort and elected me as the MP for Otuke East.
When my story is told by the press, it would appear as if I have been the greatest Olympian of all time from Africa. Far from that, I am not even a gold medalist at the Olympics.
So the question is:
What makes me different from the multitude of the Olympians who have won several gold, silver and bronze medals at the Olympics?
The answer to this question is the motivation for my speech today.
Let me share the five most important lessons I have learned from my life to this moment that we are celebrating today.
Lesson 1: For every hero, there are so many heroes behind the scenes.
Let me start by thanking all those people who identified and nurtured my talent and shone a light on me:
1./ The almighty God for my life and the journey of my life itself.
2./ A special thanks to my Dad Mr Charles Achuma and my mother Ms Kristina Achuma (RIP) in whose honor our community medical facility is named.
3./ To John Akii Bua who inspired me with his 1972 Olympics gold, and enabled me to run 72 kms on foot from my village to Lira town to be able to compete at the Lira district championship, in order to make it to the national championship. Back then, my county could not afford to transport the team to compete in Lira.
4./ My sports teachers Christopher Mugisha who identified me from Lira district championship in 1989 and brought me to Makerere College school where I obtained a sports scholarship for the rest of my ‘O’ level education. Mr John Cook, my first American coach who took care of my talent at George Mason, Virginia State but more importantly took care of me in his house as his own son in a foreign land.
5./ The Athletic friends from Australia including Eloise Wellings, The James Fee family in the United States and all those who are supporting my humanitarian effort.
Lesson 2: It is not the power and fame we obtain from our achievements that matters. Rather, it is what we do with that power that matters most.
When I got the opportunity that life gave me, I focused on what matters most to my people who faced great challenges in Otuke. Even when I was an athlete in the USA, I started gathering used shoes and sportswear and shipping them back to the needy children who needed them to be able to run.
When I retired and finally retuned back to Uganda in 2011, my first initiative was to build a health centre in my village. Back then, my people died of minor diseases like dysentery and typhoid. There was no basic healthcare.
I began to support my communities with the very basics of livelihood initiatives including seeds to plant and to be able to have food on the table, drilling new and repairing broken boreholes.
Lesson 3: The greatest source of happiness is obtained not from running to the top, but in looking behind.
When you succeed, hold a hand, guide a soul, thank the people, and help the needy. Today, I find my happiness in helping my people.
Lesson 4: The alternative to fear in ‘Never Give Up’
To all those who are searching for answers to questions around them all over the world.
This is my message to you and it is a life lesson I have learned: Never give up. God by whatever name you call him, is watching every effort you make, and your time is coming.
Lesson 5: The journey is not over after the medal.
Many times when we hit the goal, or accomplish the mission, we sit back, relax and enjoy.
I love sports greatly, but my fame got illuminated not on the sports arena or at the height of my sports achievements, but more with what I did outside of sports.
1./ My work with the community;
2./ My interactions with the sports fraternity;
3./ My commitment to the service of humanity.
Thank you for the honour, the love and the opportunity.”
We’re so proud of Julius and honoured to have the chance to work with someone with such a big heart, who truly cares for everyone.
Julius’ story is remarkable – one of perseverance, passion and determination to overcome despite the challenges that lay ahead. He now lives in Kampala with his wife and three children, and continues to advocate for his community of Otuke.
If you want to learn about the journey of 11-year-old Julius Achon from remote northern Uganda, download the free excerpt to the start of his book “The Boy Who Runs” here.