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Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay makes history at Tour de France

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Unheralded Eritrean cyclist, Biniam Girmay, on Monday, made history by becoming the first Black African rider to claim victory in a Tour de France stage.

Girmay crossed the finish line ahead of tour favourites, Fernando Gaviria and Arnaud De Lie, completing the stage in 5 hours, 26 minutes, 48 seconds.

Girmay won stage three of the 2024 Tour in Turin after a crash in the peloton, three kilometres from the finish, dashed Mark Cavendish’s hopes of becoming the Tour’s record-breaking stage winner for yet another day.

The 24-year-old Girmay who rides for the Intermarché-Wanty team, had already won a stage in the 2022 Giro d’Italia and of the Belgian classic Gent-Wevelgem, and took his first Tour success after sprinting ahead of Fernando Gaviria and Arnaud De Lie.

Speaking after the race, the Eritrean said:

“Ever since I started cycling, I’ve always been dreaming of the Tour. But to win in my second Tour, in a big bunch sprint, is unbelievable. It means a lot, personally for me, and for the continent.

“I remember my father really liked to watch the Tour every July. He always showed us the Tour de France on TV. One day, I asked him if it was possible to be part of the Tour, and he said: ‘Keep going and everything is possible.’

“Today, everybody will believe African riders can succeed in the World Tour. We must be proud, now we are really part of the big races, now it’s our moment, our time.”

Girmay’s victory came on the third day and the longest stage of this year’s race, spanning 230.8 kilometers (roughly 143 miles) between Piacenza and Turin.

Girmay had previously achieved a milestone in Italy two years ago by winning a stage at the Giro d’Italia, making him the first Black African to secure a victory in a Grand Tour, which includes the Giro, the Tour de France, and the Spanish Vuelta.

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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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Nine killed, 20 injured in Somalia cafe bombing during Euro football final

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At least nine people have been confirmed killed and 20 others injured following a powerful car bomb blast at a cafe in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu that was packed with football fans watching the Euro 2024 final on Sunday night.

An official from the national security agency, Mohamed Yusuf. who confirmed the incident to journalists on Monday, said the death toll could well rise as some of the injured were in critical condition.

“Nine civilians were killed and 20 others wounded in the explosion,” Yusuf said.

“There were many people inside the restaurant, most of them youth who were watching the football match… but thanks to God, most of them made their way out safely after using ladders to climb up and jump over the backside perimeter wall,” he said.

A staff member at the cafe, Mohamud Salad, who also spoke to journalists, said five people were killed outside the shop instantly.

“People were watching the European football final between Spain and England on a screen inside the café in the Somali capital when a car loaded with explosives blew up outside,” Salad said.

“We have confirmed five deaths so far and twenty others wounded. Most of the casualties were among those who were outside. Fortunately, everyone inside survived, but there was extensive damage to vehicles and properties,” Salad added.

Images posted online showed a huge fireball and plumes of smoke billowing into the night sky as the explosion ripped through the popular restaurant in the center of the city.

Though no group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, state-run Somali National News Agency said the attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab jihadists.

The news agency, in a report, said that “Al-Shabaab group has been waging a bloody insurgency against Somalia’s fragile federal government for more than 17 years and has carried out numerous bombings in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country.”

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