Swedish distance runner Abeba Aregawi has spoken of her disappointment that remarks she made about homosexuality overshadowed her 1,500m gold medal performance in Moscow in August.
The Ethiopia-born athlete refused to participate in the rainbow protest because of her religious beliefs at the World Championships last month. However, she has now said that she feels nobody really celebrated her gold because of what she said at a press conference.
Twenty-three-year-old Aregawi was born in Ethiopia but has been a citizen of Sweden since last year. She won gold in the women’s 1,500m event in Moscow, but the actions of sprinter Moa Hjelmer and high jumper Emma Green Tregaro, both of whom painted their fingernails in the rainbow colours to support gay rights, gained more headlines.
Aregawi declined the chance to show solidarity with her teammates because her faith doesn’t allow homosexuality. She later said using an interpreter that the religion she practices doesn’t permit men being with men and women being with women.
However, she has now spoken out once more and blamed the Swedish athletics association management for causing the controversy. She explained that she wasn’t prepared for such a question at the press conference and she is disappointed she didn’t get any help.
Following her initial comments some people had dubbed her a homophobe, but she has said she respects all people as equal.
Aregawi’s World Championships gold was Sweden’s first in six years.