Abeba Aregawi winning gold in Gothenburg.Photo: Radiosporten/SR
World Athletics Championships

Abeba Aregawi leads Swedish hopes in Moscow

3:37 min

The World Athletics Championships finally get underway in Moscow Saturday after a build-up which has been dominated by failed drug tests and demonstrations against Russia's anti-gay propaganda law.

For Sweden, perhaps the only realistic hope of a gold medal comes from a middle distance runner who only received Swedish citizenship late last year.

Abeba Aregawi was born in Adegrat, Ethiopia and as the world's best 1,500 metre runner is perhaps Sweden's only chance of a gold medal in Moscow.

She was spotted as a 17 year old running the 400 metres by a talent scout from Addis Ababa who invited her to join the local running club and offered her a flat and a study place.

Several years later at a national training camp she met and fell in love with Henok Weldegebriel. The Ethiopian had lived in Sweden for nine years and was a Swedish citizen. The couple married in 2009 and Abeba Aregawi followed her husband to Stockholm that winter where she suffered a stress fracture to her leg from all the indoor running. After recovering the following Spring, she trained in the capital's parks with her husband cycling alongside as trainer.

Aregawi continued to compete for Ethiopia, switching from 800 metres to 1,500 metres but she now wants to become a Swedish citizen and dreams of competing for this Nordic nation.

Sweden's Olympic Committee (SOK) began work to speed up the whole citizenship process with discussions with the International Athletic Federation and the Swedish Migration Board and the 23-year-old finally became a Swedish citizen in the summer of 2012, although it wasn't until December that was she was eligible to represent Sweden.

Since then, she's swept all before her, winning in Doha, New York, Rome, Birmingham and Lausanne as well as taking gold in the European Indoor Championships.

Of the 21 Swedish athletes competing in Moscow,there are also hopes that high jumper Emma Green Tregaro can also take a medal.

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