October 2013 - Nyan Yassin, Cyclist

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SULAIMANIYAH, IRAQ: Members of Newroz cycling club compete in team time trials in temperatures of over 30ºC.  One of the team, Lavan, had a puncture and had to fall back and fix it before completing the time trial. A police officer on a motorbike escorts the team as they have to compete on a road that remains open to traffic.  The police escort waves traffic aside.<br />
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Nyan Yassin, 24, is a professional competitive cyclist in Sulaimaniyah in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.  She is the captain of an all-female club called Newroz Club, which is the only cycling club for women in Sulaimaniyah, although there are other clubs around Iraq.  She trains and competes on roads that are badly surfaced and busy with traffic.<br />
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Nyan was the first woman to start cycling in Sulaimaniyah.  She was always competitive and after trying her hand at different sports she settled on cycling.  She is now the top female cyclist in Iraq.  Her nickname is MigMig after the noise made by the cartoon character Roadrunner.<br />
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Despite being clearly talented at her sport Nyan knows that in a couple of years she will have to get married and then abandon it as, in the traditional society that Kurdistan is, being a wife and a competitive sportswoman at the same time is not an option.<br />
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Photo by Gona Hassan/Metrography