Heps History: Aggrey Awori

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Come March it will be 50 years since Harvard’s Aggrey Awori did something no Heps’ performer did before or since. At the 1963 Indoor Heps Championships at Barton Hall in Ithaca, N.Y., the native Ugandan won three men’s individual event titles (and claimed a fourth on a relay).

He didn’t just win the 60-yard dash and hurdles as well as the long jump and the mile relay, Awori broke a record (6.1 in the dash) and matched two others (7.4 in the hurdles, 3:21.9 in the relay). His winning long jump measured out at 23-5 1/4.

Two years later, as a senior, Awori was visited by the FBI at his Cambridge apartment after the East African Students’ Organization, of which he was president, invited two members of the Russian delegation to the United Nations to speak to his organization. He also penned a letter to the Harvard Crimson about it, which drew the federal attention. He would later say, “If you speak your mind, the FBI comes to speak to you.”

For Awori, who twice competed in the Olympics for Uganda, it was just the beginning of a political career. He finished third in the voting for Uganda’s presidency a decade ago and served as the nation’s Minster for Information & Communications Techology until recently.

Awori is now 73 years old.

NOTE: It is worth noting that Awori’s distinction as the lone person to win three individual events at Indoor Heps is for the men only. Seven different women have done it, including Yale’s Joslyn Woodard, who did it three times. And in 2009, Cornell’s Jeomi Maduka won four individual events — the 60- and 200-meter dashes as well as the long and triple jumps — which remains hard to believe.

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