By Mutsa Makuvaza
ZIMBABWE’S 16-year-old Motocross champion Tanya Muzinda has been nominated for the Nickelodeon Kid of the year 2020 award in the Times Magazine.
In a tweet, the young biker said even if she fails to win the award, her mere nomination would give hope to millions of kids around the globe.
“I am honoured to have made short list for @NickelodeonKid Of The Year 2020 with Time Magazine, even if l dont win this Award being alongside these incredible kids gives me hope for a better future.
“Celebrating kids around the World who are inspiring in their communities . #KOYT“
The poster girl for motocross in Zimbabwe, and a beacon of hope for her entire country, Tanya is living proof to young people that they can, with proper care, thrive beyond illness.
Motocross is a timed motorcycle race over a closed winding dirt/mud trail with hills, jumps, and turns. And how did an ordinary Zimbabwean kid end up on the headlines of the global sport pages for all the good reasons?
When Tanya was 5, a friend of her father’s invited the family to Harare’s Donnybrook Raceway. Tanya’s father allowed her to try motocross, and Tanya, who already raced go-carts, instantly fell in love. She placed second in her first competition, and became the first Zimbabwean girl to win a local motocross championship.
Since then, Tanya, who hails from Harare, has traveled the world to compete.
She had been working with a bike borrowed from that family friend, but the burnt orange 65 cc motorbike in the poster was a gift to Tanya, now 12, from the European Union Delegation of Zimbabwe. It was sent as a goodwill gesture, as Tanya had been selected by the United Nations as honorary ambassador for gender, youth and sport that August.
Motocross is growing in popularity in Zimbabwe, where the most popular sports are soccer and croquet, and it was that honor, along with her fierce motocross abilities, that led to her appearance on the poster.
Nine months after Tanya was born — she’s the oldest of three siblings — her immune system weakened. Tawanda Muzinda and his wife Adiyon sent Tanya to live with her grandparents in the country’s “rural areas” for nearly four years. She returned to Harare feeling stronger, and was able to attend the local school.
By mid-2015, a press conference was held to announce that Team Tanya – composed of Tawanda, Adiyon, Tanya and her Italian mentor, two-time women’s motocross champion Stefy Bau — was partnering with Harare Children’s. “It was a good feeling, because I got sick when I was younger, so I’m lucky I got to work and have the opportunity to give them hope,” said Tanya.
Tanya has known since she was 7 years old — the first time she placed on the victory podium at Donnybrook Raceway — that she wanted to become a motocross world champion.
Within the past few years, she’s been named the Junior Sportsperson of the year, received the Teen Female Sport Award, Zimbabwe’s Rising Star award, and those are just a few of her accolades.
“Motocross in Africa, most girls don’t really do it,” said Tanya. “I want to show people you can’t spend the rest of your life being scared. I think I will inspire girls from all over the world.”
- Aditional content by Undefeated.com