Kriss Akabusi MBE MA was born in London in 1958. At the age of 16 he joined the army and did his basic training in Northumbria where he was introduced to track and field athletics. His international athletic career began in 1983.
As a member of the British 4 x 400 metre relay team, he won his first medal, a silver at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
He will probably always be remembered most for helping Britain clinch the Gold and beat the Americans in the World Championships 4×400 metre relay in Tokyo in 1991. At the start of the final lap, Kriss took the baton whilst in second place behind the US team. He then dramatically overtook the American runner Antonio Pettigrew, who had just won the 400 metre individual event. On the final bend, Kriss crossed the line in first place to win the gold medal for Britain.
In 1992, Kriss was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty the Queen in her Birthday Honours List in recognition of his services to the country through athletics.
Currently, Kriss is Chief Executive Officer of The Akabusi Company, a corporate communications and training company.
Are you passionate about cars?
Yes, it’s my indulgence and what I spend my money on. I have 3 cars, a Jaguar XJ, a Range Rover Sport and a Bentley Continental GTC.
What’s your favourite out of the 3?
The Bentley, it was aspirational and a boyhood dream achieved.
What do you enjoy listening to whilst driving?
I’m mostly into jazz and soul and listen to Jazz FM.
What has been your favourite out of all the cars you’ve owned?
My very first car was an Opel GTJ. It was a small 2 seater sports car with pop-up headlamps. It reminded me of a little spaceship.
Who keeps your cars clean?
Definitely not me! Once a week I take all my cars down to the local hand car wash
Who taught you to drive?
I was 17 and taught to drive by the Army.
Did you pass your driving test on the first attempt?
Yes, I took my test in a 4x ton truck which meant double-declutching and crunching a couple of gears. If you can drive one of those, you can drive anything!
Are personalised number plates your thing?
Yes. On my Bentley I have K155 AKA. On my Range Rover I have quite an obscure plate which is K1 GBO. The K obviously stands for Kriss and the 1 GBO stands for the tribe that my Mum and Dad came from in Nigeria.
Can you pick out a particular journey and say why it was so?
I was working in Lowestoft and finished there about 11pm and had to be in Scotland by 9am the next morning. I journeyed up the east of England. It was a wonderful drive all through the night along virtually empty roads.
Who would you most like to have sitting next to you as a passenger on a long journey?
Someone I could talk philosophically to. If it could be from the past then Jesus of Nazarene would be an obvious choice for me because I’d like to know for certain about the hereafter.
Have you ever experienced a car breakdown away from home and if so, what were the circumstances?
I was in the army and based out in Germany. I’d come to the UK and on a whim bought myself a beautiful Triumph Stag. I was all excited and was driving back to Germany along the autobahn late at night. All of a sudden, I could see sparks, the car started to sway and the next thing my rear wheel overtook me! I had to call the break-down service out to transport the car back. It turned out to be a very expensive trip indeed!
Would you describe yourself as a good driver?
I’d describe myself as a safe driver. I think I’m also a polite driver and will generally let someone out if I see they’ve been waiting for a while.
What things annoy you about other drivers when you are on the road?
I do lots of motorway driving and consider myself a considerate driver and always leave a safe gap between myself and the cars in front. It really bugs me when I leave what I consider to be a safe gap and someone nips in. It also annoys me when I see ‘hotheads’ weaving in and out across the lanes.
Would you say there is sufficient rule enforcement on our roads?
On the whole, I think the balance is right. I also think the motorway police are quite sensible in their approach. I’m ‘old school’ and will always call them ‘officers’ and treat them with respect.
If you were Roads Minister for a day, is there anything you would you change?
I’d have more toll roads and I’d probably increase the speed limit on motorways to 85mph!
Could you manage without a car?
No. For me, when I listen to ‘Desert Island Discs’ and they get to question ‘What luxury would you take to your island?’ Mine would be a car
What’s your top driving tip?
Keep your distance.
How clean is your licence?
Not very! I tend to have around 3 to 6 points on my licence at any one time – all for speeding – SP30, that’s the code for speeding; I know it off by heart!
What is your chosen Charity for GEM Motoring Assist’s donation?
The Akabusi Charitable Trust.
Working out in Nigeria working mainly with women from rural communities. Women will feed her children, send them off to school, look after her husband and even employ 3 or 4 local people. This way, she will form part of the social infrastructure and help stimulate the local economy. Men on the other hand, have a tendency to spend the money on a variety of less desirable forms of personal entertainment!
Although £100 doesn’t sound like a lot of money to some, GEM’s donation is enough to set a woman up in business and will have a multiplier effect of 10 to 1. Without any shadow of a doubt, I believe the future of Nigeria lies with the women.