A 36-year-old man who just became a Norwegian citizen two years ago came home to Stavanger earlier this week with Norway’s last medal from the European Championships. Zerei Kbrom Mezngi came to Norway as a refugee from Eritrea in 2012, kept up his running career and brought more athletic glory to his new country after winning silver in the 10,000-meter race.
“My goal was to be in the top five or top three,” a jubilant Mezngi told state broadcaster NRK. Not only did he end up placing an impressive second, he also broke a personal record by 11 seconds. He ran the l0,000 meters in 27 minutes, 46.94 seconds, right behind winner Yemaneberhan Crippa from Italy with 27:46.13.
He told TV2 that at one point, when failing to earn any income from his sport, he considered ending his athletic career to drive a taxi. He won a place on the national team at the end of last year, though, and now has his sights on the Olympics in Paris in 2024. The other two Norwegians in the race, Magnus Tuv Myhre and Bjørnar Sandnes Lillefosse, placed seventh and 20th respectively.
Norwegians ended up winning a total of three gold medals, Mezngi’s silver and two bronze medals at the European Championships in Munich.