Photos: Africa’s Exiled Athletes (Born in Africa but competing under new flags in London)

Several sportsmen and women who were born in Africa will play for non-African countries at the London Olympics.

Basketball player Luol Deng will represent the UK. He was born and raised in what is now South Sudan but moved with his family to London and is a British citizen. At the age of 14 he moved to the US and became one of most successful players in the NBA. He joined Chicago Bulls in 2004 and played for NBA All Star team in 2012.

Maryam Jamal was born Zenebech Tola in Ethiopia. She ran the qualifying time to compete in Athens 2004 but the same year left Ethiopia with her husband and sought political asylum in Switzerland. After applying for citizenship in the US, Canada and France, she was finally accepted by Bahrain and changed her name to Maryam Jamal. As a Bahraini athlete she went on to win two gold medals at the World Championships in Osaka in 2007 and Berlin in 2009.

Francis Obikwelu was born in Nigeria and, wearing a Nigerian vest, won double gold at the World Junior Championship in Sydney in 1996, followed by a silver and bronze at the senior World Championships in Athens and Seville. At 16 he moved to Lisbon and became a Portuguese citizen. He won silver for Portugal in the 100m at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He announced his retirement after a disappointing Beijing Games, but changed his mind after becoming European indoor champion in 2011.

Achieng Ajulu-Bushell lived in Kenya until the age of 10 but will become the first black woman to represent the United Kingdom in a swimming discipline at London 2012. She swam for Kenya at the African Youth Championships in Senegal in 2008 but decided to switch nationality – “the hardest decision I have ever had to make” – because Kenya did not have the swimming facilities for her to realise her potential.

British runner Mo Farah was born in Somalia but lived in Djibouti until the age of eight when he moved to London. He initially struggled to adapt to his new country but his natural talent as a runner was identified early on. He won European junior title over 5,000m in 2001. In 2011, he moved with his family to the US to train under Alberto Salazar and just months later won gold in 5,000m and silver in 10,000m at the World Championships in Daegu.

Elvan Abeylegesse was born Hewan Abeye in Addis Ababa and represented Ethiopia at World Junior Cross Country Championships in Belfast in 1999. She became a Turkish citizen the following year after marrying a Turk (from whom she is now divorced), claiming she did not get enough support from the Ethiopian federation. She won Olympic silver in both the 5,000m and 10,000m in Beijing. In 2011 she married her long-term partner Semeneh Debelie and had a child.

Bernard Lagat was born and raised in Nandi District, Kenya, and won Olympic bronze and silver medals in athletics for the East African country at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004. In 2005, he became a naturalised US citizen and is a double world champion – both indoors and outdoors – for the United States. Recently, he retained the world 3,000m indoor title in Istanbul and will be among favourites for 5,000m and 10,000m in London.

Source: BBC News

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