On Saturday 8th April, I was privileged to receive two Teen Awards: one for “Outstanding Female Sport 2016” and other for “Teen of the Year 2016.” I was greatly honoured by the number of people who voted for me in such a short space of time.
You might ask, “Where did it all begin?” It all started in 2011 when I was 5 years old. My dad would take me to pre-school on the back of his motorcycle and pick me up again at the end of the day. I always looked forward to the ride!
One day my dad went for a ride with his friend whose son who also rode. They invited me to join them because they thought I was a boy. My dad was very excited about it but my mom was apprehensive. Eventually, my dad managed to twist her arm into letting me go. At the track, my dad's friend was shocked to realise that I was a girl, but he gave me a chance anyway. I loved my first ride and I knew from that day on that I wanted to race.
The bike that I used that first day belonged to my dad's friend - I didn't yet have my own. For months after that, I begged my dad to buy me my own motorcycle. He couldn't afford one, so he sold the family motorcycle in order to buy me my own. The motorcycle that he sold had been in our family for two generations and held a lot of sentimental value, but my dad was willing to make the sacrifice.
He bought the bike from a local motorcycle dealer who was willing to sell because his son was a Motocross racer, but he always came last. His dad thought that if I joined the races, his son would then have someone to beat! Needless to say, once I was on my brand new bike, I beat that boy and shocked him and his dad!
From then on, I was hooked. My first podium finish was at Gary Grainger Farm in Ruwa where I came 3rd behind Big Chitima and another boy. I was so excited! My mom and dad realised the passion that I had for this sport. Podiums became an addiction for me and I have never looked back.
When I was 9 years old, my dad wanted me to take a bigger step in Motocross; he decided to look for a professional who could help us. He sent an email to a three-time World Champion from Italy, Stefy Bau, but she didn't reply because she thought it was a scam. Eventually, she did actually reply and my dad managed to bring her down to Africa. She became my mentor and manager.
I began travelling and winning more and more races. I soon became the “First Black Female Rider in Zimbabwe” to win a championship by winning the 65cc class in 2013. This was a first in the history of Zimbabwean Motocross since it was established in 1957.
Right before my 10th birthday, I was honoured by the European Union and appointed as a Project Ambassador for “Food Security in Rural Areas.” My role was to motivate and inspire the people working on the project, as they were using motorcycles for their transport. Before receiving this honour, my bike had broken down and it was beyond repair. On hearing what had happened to my bike, the European Union also gifted me with a brand new KTM bike.
I was then appointed as an Honorary Ambassador for “Youth, Gender, Sport and Development” by the Head of Delegation, Aldo Dell'Ariccia, on his last day in Zimbabwe.
In 2014, l went with my dad to the UK for an award ceremony. This was my first time on a plane going overseas and I was scared. We struggled to pay for the plane tickets, but at the last minute, we managed to get some support from NetOne, MBCA Bank and Mazarura Funeral Cover. We got two tickets, so only my dad and I were able to go. We landed in the UK on the very day of the awards. We arrived at the ceremony and were anxiously waiting to hear who the winner would be. I was shocked when I heard my name called out: “Tanya Muzinda!” I burst into tears of joy!
When we arrived home in Zimbabwe, I had a huge crowd waiting for me at the airport singing joyful songs – what a memorable day that was!
Last year (2016), I went for a European tour for a month, with both my parents, where I had the privilege of training and racing with some other female racers from Italy. I had my first race in Italy and although I didn't win, it was great exposure. After that, we went to Belgium where we saw Tony Cairoli, one of the best male riders in the history of Motocross. We then went to the Netherlands where I continued to practice with Stefy Bau. Whilst I was training, there was an Italian man who was very interested in my racing abilities. He decided to take us back to Italy were he invited the best coach to come and coach me for a week.
#TeamTanya is working hard to get me more exposure on the international scene, but none of this would be possible without the enduring support of my family, Stefy and all my local and international supporters. Thank you all! Tatenda! Siyabonga! Merci! Grazie!