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Briton Russell Cook makes history as first man to run the length of Africa

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A 27-year-old Briton from Worthing, West Sussex, UK, Russell Cook, who embarked on an audacious task of running the “full length of Africa,” successfully completed the race after crossing the finish line in Tunisia after 352 days.

Cook, nicknamed the “Hardest Geezer”, crossed the finish line on Sunday at about 16:40 BST in Ras Angela, Tunisia, to a tumultuous welcome by the excited crowd chanting his alias of “Geezer”.

Before setting off on the mammoth challenge to run the entire length of Africa, Cook had said he hoped to look back at his life and have no regrets but while speaking at the completion of the race, he said he had struggled with his mental health, gambling and drinking, and wanted to “make a difference”.

After running through 16 African countries, Cook also has raised more than £700,000 for charity.

Posting on his official X account, Cook said had initially planned to run 360 marathons in 240 days, with no rest days but a lot changed since he set off from the UK in February 2023.

According to him, his initial plan to run from Tunisia to South Africa, completing 360 marathons in 240 days with no rest days, but the plan was halted by a lack of an Algerian visa, an hindrance which he said was to resurface later.

He stated that that after a last-minute switch, he had to set off on foot from South Africa on 22 April, a journey that would take him through cities, rainforests, mountains and the Sahara Desert.

Cook”s management said he and his team had cameras, phones, cash and passports stolen in Angola in June last year.

“After ticking off South Africa and Namibia in 50 days, Mr Cook encountered his first major setback – an armed robbery,” the management said in a statement.

“But, as with many stumbling blocks he would face throughout the challenge, the ultrarunner vowed to soldier on.

“Mr Cook underwent medical tests in Nigeria for a recurring back pain. Consistently running more than a marathon a day began to take its toll.

“After some minor tummy troubles in the early weeks, he was forced to take his first rest day after doctors found blood and protein in his urine on day 45, but it was recurring back pain that caused the most concern.

“On day 200, Mr Cook was forced to reduce his mileage and intensity at the request of a doctor in Nigeria – even missing consecutive days on day 205 and 206.”

In his words, the “Hardest Geezer” said there was no stopping him.

“I took a couple of days to get some scans. No bone damage, so figured the only option left was to stop mincing about like a little weasel, get the strongest painkillers available and zombie stomp road again,” he said.

He said after some setbacks, all that separated him and the finish line was the small task of the Sahara Desert.

“The tarmac roads ran out, as did the signal and any signs of civilisation. But an end date was set: 7 April, 2024,” the management team continued.

“Ramping up his mileage to make up for lost time, Mr Cook made the decision to run through the night due to the intense daytime heat and sandstorms.

“Mr Cook finished running the length of Africa on 7 April
Months turned into weeks, and weeks turned into days.

“Finally, on Sunday afternoon, Mr Cook laced his trainers one last time – at least for now – as he set off for Tunisia’s most northerly point.”

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South African Akani Simbine beats Omanyala to pick 100m gold at Atlanta City Games

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South African sprint sensation, Akani Simbine, on Saturday at the Atlanta City Games further put a dent on Kenyan 100m African record holder Ferdinand Omanyala’s claims of being the continent’s king of sprint by pipping him to the second spot.

The defeat by Simbine meant that Omanyala was handed his second 100m defeat in less than a week.

Omanyala who is Africa’s fastest man at the moment and Commonwealth Games champion has however, insisted that the two successive defeats he has suffered does not take anything away from his position as Africa’s sprint king as he is taking a different approach to his season and has noted that he will only peak when the time is necessary with the main focus being the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

After the heats, Omanyala noted that they shall be keen to take a day at a time and improve on the weak areas

“We are taking it a race at a time and it’s a long season where the main target is the Olympic Games so we are not going to peak too early this time and we are handling each race as it comes and improving on the important areas,” Omanyala said.

At the Atlanta City Games proper, Omanyala had a great start off the blocks and seemed to be in great shape to take the win Simbine had the better chance as his finishing was top notch.

Athletics World reports that
Simbine crossed the finish line in a world leading time of 9.90 while Omanyala came in second in 10.10.

“After the race, Simbine was over the moon and noted how it was important to represent his country with pride and place their name on the world map,” the report said.

“You know I’m representing South Africa and I’m happy with the win and I’m so happy to be out here. I’ve always been part of the conversation. I’ve never left so we’ll see.”

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Egyptian midfielder Elneny announces departure from Arsenal after eight years

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Egypt and Arsenal midfielder, Mohamed Elneny, has announced his departure from the club at the end of this season after eight years at the North London club.

Elneny who made the announcement in a video on Friday, said he will depart the club following the expiration of his contract.

Elneny joined Arsenal from Swiss side Basel in 2016 and made 161 appearances but in the last two seasons, the Egyptian midfielder has struggled for playing time due to a combination of injuries and loss of form.

In 2019, under former manager Unai Emery, he was loaned out to Besiktas for the 2019-20 campaign, where he played 36 times for the Turkish side.

Upon returning to Arsenal, he found a more prominent role under new manager Mikel Arteta.

Elneny’s contract was due to expire at the end of last season, but Arsenal opted to extend it by an additional year. With this extension now coming to an end, it has been widely reported that the 31-year-old will leave the club this summer.

In the video on X, Elneny said:

“Gooners, I’m here today to send you a message. To say goodbye and thank you for everything you’ve done for me, the love, the support, and the kindness. I am really going to miss you so much and you will be in my heart forever.

“I wanted to say how much I love you and how much you mean to me. I will never forget the way you supported me. I am going to see you on Sunday at the Emirates Stadium to say goodbye face to face.”

He added that he would bid farewell to fans at the Emirates on Sunday as Arsenal host Everton in their final league match.

Though Elneny did not say where he would go after leaving Arsenal, it is believed he will be heading to the Saudi Arabian league to join a horde of elite players who have made the Saudi League the new football haven.

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