Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi (L) wins the women’s 1500 metres final at the 2013 IAAF World Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on August 15, 2013. (AFP)
Sweden’s Ethiopian-born Abeba Aregawi won the women’s 1500m title at the World Athletics Championships on Thursday.
Aregawi, who was only cleared to run for Sweden in December 2012, six months after receiving Swedish citizenship, clocked 4min 02.67sec.
American Jennifer Simpson, the defending world champion, took silver in 4:02.99 with Kenyan Hellen Onsando Obiri claiming bronze (4:03.86).
Abeba Aregawi Gebretsadik (born 5 July 1990) is a Swedish middle-distance runner who specialises in the 1500 metres. Her personal best is 3:56.54 minutes for the event. Abeba is married to an Ethiopian man with Swedish citizenship and has lived in Stockholm since 2009, and in the summer of 2012 she became a Swedish citizen. She represents the Stockholm based club Hammarby IF. Abeba was born in Ethiopia and represented the country in middle-distance until December 2012, when she became eligible to represent Sweden in international competition. Aregawi contested her first race representing her new country at international level during the 2013 European Athletics Indoor Championships, where she won the gold medal.
Abeba emerged as an 800 metres runner in 2009 by winning the Ethiopian title in the event ahead of three-time champion Mestawet Tadesse. She competed at a number of European meets after this then set a personal best of 2:01.98 minutes in Tangiers. Her season culminated in an 800 m bronze medal at the 2009 African Junior Athletics Championships, where she finished behind Caster Semenya.
She switched to the 1500 metres in the 2010 season and enjoyed success with wins at the Sollentuna Grand Prix and KBC Night of Athletics meetings, setting a personal best of 4:01.96 minutes at the latter race. She also ran on the 2010 Diamond League circuit for the first time, coming fourth at the DN Galan and seventh at the Weltklasse Zurich. Abeba had a strong indoor season in 2011, with four straight wins in Düsseldorf, Gent, Birmingham and Stockholm, including a personal best run of 4:01.47 minutes. However, she only made one appearance outdoors as her season was stopped due to injury.
She emerged as one of the world’s top 1500 m runners on the 2012 IAAF Diamond League circuit. She was second to Genzebe Dibaba at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix, running a best of 3:59.23 minutes. However, she defeated her rival at the Golden Gala, breaking the national record with a run of 3:56.54 minutes, then won again at the Bislett Games. Abeba won both the 800 m and the 1500 m for Hammarby IF in the Swedish team championships on June 20, 2012.