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Swedish athlete switches to red, not rainbow nails

Saturday - 8/17/2013, 8:40pm  ET

Sweden's Emma Green Tregaro prepares to competes in the women's high jump final at the World Athletics Championships in the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013. The Swedish high jumper who sparked a controversy at the world championships by painting her fingernails in the colors of the rainbow to support gay rights took the field Saturday with a bright but politically neutral red instead. Tregaro had been told earlier that the rainbow motif could be a violation of the championships’ code of conduct. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

JIM HEINTZ
Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Swedish high jumper who painted her fingernails in rainbow colors to support gay rights at the world championships took the field Saturday with bright red nail polish this time.

Emma Green Tregaro had been told by Swedish officials that the rainbow gesture, which brought international attention as a protest against Russia's new law against gay "propaganda," could be a violation of the competition's code of conduct.

"It was harder to not paint them in the rainbow than it was to choose to paint them," Green Tregaro said Saturday. "I'm surprised by the big reactions, but I'm happy about the big reaction because it's mostly been very positive."

The 28-year-old Green Tregaro won the bronze medal at the 2005 world championships, but she finished fifth Saturday at Luzhniki Stadium.

She said the Swedish track and field federation asked her to "please respect the rules" and change the color of her nails.

"So I decided to paint them red instead, for love," Green Tregaro said.

Green Tregaro's gesture Thursday was a quiet criticism of a Russian law that bans so-called propaganda supporting homosexuality to minors. Russian pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva later said the protest showed disrespect to Russia.

The general secretary of the Swedish federation said earlier Saturday that the IAAF, the sport's governing body, had warned them that Green Tregaro may have violated the code of conduct.

"They were saying that this was by definition a breach of the regulations, not saying anything else, really," Anders Albertsson said. "We have informed our athletes about this."

Green Tregaro said that Swedish officials were standing by her.

"But I didn't want the federation to experience any consequences in any way for my choice," Green Tregaro said.

Isinbayeva's criticism of the Swedish athlete's gesture attracted wide attention because she also said she supported Russia's law and that Russians have "normal" heterosexual relations.

Isinbayeva said the next day she may have been misunderstood because she was speaking in English instead of her native language. She also said she is against discrimination.


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