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Talent for running wins student an athletic scholarship in Canada


An exchange semester in Ottawa has led to a life-changing scholarship for Malmö University student and professional athlete Alexander Agaba. 

Hailing from Uganda, Agaba was studying International Migration and Ethnic Relations in Malmö when he decided to do a semester abroad.

“Going to Canada has always been a dream of mine, so when I heard it was possible to go on exchange, I decided to take the chance and apply. I’m so happy that Malmö University was able to give me that opportunity,” he says.

Agaba has been running ever since he can remember. He says he was “born a runner” and started competing in school races at the age of five.

“In addition to my studies, I was also a professional runner for a club in Gothenburg and trained with other athletes in Malmö. When I came to Ottawa they saw my stats, saw that I had talent and decided to give me the scholarship.”

The scholarship offer means that once Agaba graduates next year, he will transfer to Ottawa University to start a master’s programme and join the University's professional athletic team. 

Since arriving in Canada, Agaba has quite literally hit the ground running.

“My goal has always been to be a professional athlete, and now I’m putting in a lot of time — I currently train every day in addition to doing five courses and studying for exams. Academia is my back-up, in case I get injured or lose my edge, but right now I’m training hard and following a strict regime because my dream is to go for the 2020 Olympics.”

Although juggling athletics and student life is tough, Agaba is glad his studies brought him here.

“I miss Sweden, but there are a lot of positives in Ottawa and I feel that Canada has more opportunities for me. I’m encouraged and inspired to see so many black people in leadership positions and am meeting lots of new friends through running.”

“Even though I’ve only been here for a month, I’ve experienced and learned so much already. I wish everyone could get the opportunity to go on exchange.”

Text: Maya Acharya

Last updated by Maya Acharya