Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
AFTER accomplishing his goal of finishing the Dakar Rally on his debut appearance, Graeme Sharp says he is taking a break for a few weeks to recover.
He will then return to action, mainly in support of local events, and sharing his experience to inspire the next generation.
Sharp’s name will go into the history books of local sport after he defied the odds to become the first Zimbabwean on a motorbike to finish the race.
He was ranked 74th at the completion of this year’s Dakar Rally last Friday in Saudi Arabia.
The Dakar Rally is regarded as the world’s toughest race and, for Sharp (33), who competed in the motorbike section, to finish the race, was a milestone.
“It’s the most challenging motorcycle event in the world, so, I think, to go there from Zimbabwe was a privilege and an honour,’’ said Sharp.
“It’s quite an eye-opening experience to see how fast some of the riders are and how challenging the event is.
“It’s regarded as the most challenging event in the world for a reason because it’s very tough.
“The distances are very long. On the longest day we raced 890km and from here to Victoria Falls it’s 755km (that’s) from Harare. So you can imagine racing from here to Livingstone in Zambia, it’s a long way.
“It’s also a very dangerous race, the dust, the speed . . . unfortunately this year we had several dangerous accidents, two people lost their lives, so it’s definitely a crazy challenging race.
“But it’s an amazing experience to be part of because you know that there are only a few people in the world that have ever finished the race.”
For him, the takeaway lesson was that, with determination, anything is possible no matter the background or circumstances one is surrounded with.
“I think the lesson from this race was even though we are from Zimbabwe, without a desert, it’s possible to go and do these things on the global stage,’’ he said.
“So, there is no reason why Zimbabweans can’t go and pursue things that are out of the ordinary.
“My future plans in terms of rally, I am not sure. I will take a couple of weeks to just recover and rest and decide what needs to happen.
“There will be one or two races this year that I will also be going back to again. So I will definitely be doing some racing.
“Definitely, locally, I want to support local (events), so we have the Victoria Falls in April/ May, I am definitely going there and support local events.
“I will also be supporting the Zimbabwe motocross, the motorsport association and do some talks and presentations to children and schools and sharing my experience, to hopefully inspire the next generation.
“So there will be a lot of feedback and giving back and sharing my experience to others.’’
Before his departure for Saudi Arabia, Sharp made it clear his goal was to finish the gruelling race.
And, he did just that.
“It was a sense of relief and accomplishment because after racing for two weeks, everyday, it’s very tiring on the body and the mind.
“By the time you finish you are physically exhausted and your mind is also very tired,” said Sharp, who arrived back home on Sunday from his adventure.