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Moroccan steeplechase star El Bakkali aims for gold at Paris Olympics

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Morocco’s steeplechase champion, Soufiane El Bakkali, says he is aiming for the gold medal at the upcoming Paris Olympics after clinching victory in the 3000m at the 15th Mohammed VI International Athletics Meeting on Sunday with a season’s best time of 8:09.40.

At the meeting which was part of the Diamond League series, El Bakkali narrowly edged out his fiercest rival, Ethiopian Wale Getnet, who clocked a time of 8:09.78, and Kenyan Amos Serem, who completed the race in 8:10.82.

“Despite my long absence due to injury, I always kept hope. I trained intensely to win this victory, which was not easy,” El Bakkali stated after the race.

He added that he adopted a different race strategy for this event as anticipation builds for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

El Bakkali who said he is acutely aware of the high expectations from Moroccan supporters, called on fans to continue their support as he aims to secure the gold medal.

The fourth stage of the Diamond League brings together athletes from all over the world, including Olympic champions and world champions.

El Bakkali’s victory in Marrakech marks a significant milestone in his preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics, where he aims to defend his Olympic title in the steeplechase.

The Mohammed VI Meeting in Marrakech is one of Africa’s premier track and field events, attracting many of the world’s top athletes and El Bakkali’s victory was a testament to his strong form as he gears up for the Olympics where he will face formidable competition from athletes like Getnet and Serem, who pushed him hard in Marrakech.

With the Olympics just under 67 days away, the Moroccan said the victory boosts his confidence, confirming that his training is on track.

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Sex scandal rocks Cameroon Volleyball Federation as officials accused of assaulting underage players

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Sex scandal rocks Cameroon Volleyball Federation as officials accused of assaulting underage player

A raging sex scandal is currently rocking the Cameroon Volleyball Federation ((FECAVOLLEY), which has seen officials scampering to deny the allegations.

According to local media, the Federation has been enmeshed in sexual misconduct involving coaches and underage players leading to a public outcry for investigation and transparency.

A whistle blower had raised an alarm with accusations that several young players, aged between 16 and 18, were impregnated by national team coaches, prompting a severe backlash and calls for an in-depth investigation.

However, in a statement on Friday, the Federation strongly denied the allegations involving sexual misconduct within its ranks.

In the statement, FECAVOLLEY addressed the claims head-on, distancing itself from the individuals involved and asserting its commitment to the ethical management and development of volleyball in Cameroon.

“The Cameroon Volleyball Federation, under the leadership of Mr. Julien Serge Abouem, wishes to inform both national and international public opinion that FECAVOLLEY is not involved in the tumult of moral affairs prevalent in the media, especially on social networks,” the statement said.

The scandal had come to light following revelations made by a professional player in an open letter where she condemned what she called the pervasive “droit de cuissage” (right of first night) and “organized debauchery” allegedly endorsed by the federation’s president.

The player’s accusations extended to the behavior of certain coaches whom she claimed were engaged in the harassment and sexual abuse of young female athletes.

The situation got worse when a sports journalist, Richard Naha reported that five underage volleyball players were currently pregnant as a result of relations with federation officials.

However, FECAVOLLEY’s statement vehemently denied any involvement with the indicted officials, referring to them as impostors who falsely claim to be associated with a so-called Cameroonian Federation of Volleyball.

“These individuals will not find a platform for expression at FECAVOLLEY, which continues to pursue its development plan harmoniously,” the statement added.

“FECAVOLLEY invites the necessary support for the implementation of public policies in the field of sports and physical education,” it noted.

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Moroccan novelist Leila Slimani makes history as she co-writes Paris Olympics ceremony script

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Moroccan novelist, Leila Slimani, has made history after she was selected alongside world renowned
historian Patrick Boucheron, and French screenwriter, Fanny Herrero, to write the script for the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

According to the Games organizers, the opening ceremony will be a spectacle that promises to be the contrary of a heroized story, cleverly subverting clichés with humor in a production that will also feature contributions from playwright and actor Damien Gabriac.

In an interview with Le Monde on Tuesday, Slimani and Boucheron shared how they envisioned the show within artistic director Thomas Jolly’s team.

“I had the concept of an immense spectacle, but I lacked a narrative to address the world,” Jolly explained, adding that having the four scripting is the ideal team.

The opening ceremony of the games will take place on July 26, and Jolly said it will break conventions as it will take place on the Seine River and amidst Paris’s iconic landmarks instead of a stadium like in previous ones.

“Along the riverbanks and bridges, 3,000 dancers and actors will present 12 artistic scenes, while national delegations will parade aboard boats,” Boucheron said.

He stated further that he drew inspiration from “the ceremony imagined by Jean-Paul Goude for the bicentennial of the French Revolution in 1989,” a landmark event in live performance history.

“The parade subverted national stereotypes and boldly advocated for global mixing with an optimism that we seem to have lost today,” he emphasized.

According to him, Paris 2024 will be the opposite of the ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Games, which was “an ode to greatness and a display of strength.”

“The opening of the Olympics must speak to the world about France and speak to France about the world, aiming to be the opposite of a virile, heroized tale,centered around France as a promise of freedom.”

Slimani also describes it as “a very generous narrative, filled with joy, emulation, movement, excitement, and sparkle, not just the famous philosophical values that France often proudly exhibits, sometimes with too much assurance.”

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