||By Tess Thomas
Trying to become a motocross champion is difficult — think high speeds, rough terrains, frequent crashes and limited protective gear. Trying to become a female motocross champion is even more difficult — male athletes dominate the sport.
But Tanya Muzinda, a 13-year-old motocross racer from Zimbabwe, refuses to be intimidated. She loves the adrenaline from flying through the air on her bike and relishes beating the boys: "I think my favourite part about the sport is when I'm racing against the boys and before the race starts, they might tease you and say, 'Oh you're a girl and you can't do anything.' But when I get on the bike, I show them who I really am."
Unfortunately, Tanya can't compete as often as she wants. "In Zimbabwe, we only have 12 races [a year]," she explained. "In the U.S. and the U.K., there are races every weekend." Fewer opportunities to compete means less experience. This puts Tanya at a distinct disadvantage to her peers, the vast majority of whom are from the U.S. or Europe.
As Tanya attempts to become the first female motocross champion from Africa, she is faced with the challenge: how can she become the best in the world at something that isn't popular in her community?