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WHILE the number of women participating in sport continues to increase at different levels either as athletes or administrators, there are still certain areas and disciplines that women seem not to be interested in. Maybe they are just afraid of the risk that comes with some of these sporting activities. One such discipline that is still male-dominated is motorsport.

In particular, motorcycling in Zimbabwe has only two women that are competitive. And one of them is 26-year-old Tiffany Fisher.

The other female rider is Bianca Schultz, based in Bulawayo.

Harare-based rider Fisher is one of the two top female motorcycle riders in the country and the future seems bright for her.

Fisher got a golden opportunity that might see her breaking more barriers not only in Zimbabwe, but across the borders after she was included in South Africa’s Monroe Racing Team for the 2015 season. She will represent them in the Superbikes both in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The development came after she competed in some events in South Africa last year and her good skills did not go unnoticed. And for the 26-year-old this presents her with a wider base to express her talent and passion that has seen her improving her skills in a short space of time.

She started participating in competitive events in 2013.

And Tiffany admits the experience has been awesome, but points out that growing up she was interested more in the girls’ stuff and never imagined herself becoming a motorbike rider.

However, life took an unexpected turn in 2011 when she developed interest in motorcycling as she used to accompany her late brother Richard for rides on Sundays.

At first it was just for fun, but as she continued to improve her skills it became her passion.

“It must have been in 2011 when I started. My brother was really into motorbikes and he would always go for Sunday rides with other bikers. I would always be a passenger to go with him just to see because I enjoyed the thrill of it. And then eventually I learnt how to ride myself.

“I think it was in 2013 when I got into the racing. So, it’s just been such an awesome journey through that, learning how to ride, then racing and then improving on the racing.

“I must have been 23 then. I never would have expected this as a little girl I was more into my Barbie dolls and girlish staff. I didn’t think about motorbike racing back then until recently. My brother was really into it and then I got into it, too. You know, when you just find your passion and you can’t stop. I found my passion, it’s motorbike racing.

“When I first started racing I always came last . . . but it was just for fun and it was to be part of something unique. And then obviously because I stuck with certain things, I kept improving and now I am like in the front. So, that’s quite an achievement.

“It’s been great, it’s been absolutely phenomenal because you know when you find something you love doing and you are actually good at it you just want to carry on and push to go faster and faster,” said Fisher.

Although motorcycling sport is a male-dominated environment, Fisher doesn’t look at it that way and believes they are all competitors with equal opportunities and the one with better skills wins.

“It’s not so bad. Yes, it’s a male-dominated environment, but they are also supportive of us, the two women. They support us, they give us guidance and help where they can, like if they see us doing something wrong. But I think now we are kind of beating them. They are not really enjoying that.

“They are all just competitors and everyone is there to win. We are all there to race against each other, the one with the most skill comes first and I just want to improve. I have got skill and I can always learn more. We all race together, the men and myself and Bianca. We all start together and all of us are equal on that track,” added Fisher.

Last year she won two races in the Megelli 250 and came third in the Superbikes, but she is hoping to improve in the latter.

“This year I am aiming to try and get the national championships for Megelli because so far I have done well. I have won the first two races of the year and would like to do that and then improve my skills on the 600.

“Competing in South Africa will definitely give me a lot of exposure and you know my skills can only improve there because there are so many people there who are also willing to help. Just watching them, one can learn. You learn a lot when you see them on TV, but it’s a different story from seeing them in real life and the techniques and things they use. So, obviously one can only improve.

“My inspiration is just to prove that I can do it as well woman as a woman without sounding feminist or anything. But I have managed to do it because when I started I was coming last. I stuck with it and now I am coming first,” said Fisher, who is mentored by the legendary Phil Archenoul who helped Jamie Whyte to win back-to-back African motor rally titles in 2009 and 2010 while navigating for the latter.

Archenoul has since hung up his motor rallying notes and is now into motorcycling full-time where he now has Fisher under his wings and the two are also great rivals on the track.

With the sport seeming to be a bit risky, Fisher admits she still gets nervous before the race, but has her own way of managing it.

“I still get nervous every time we sit at the start-line to go those butterflies don’t go away whether you have been racing for 10 years or for two years, you still have those butterflies.

“So, I just go round the track in my mind, just think about that because if you sit and think too much about everything that’s when you make a mistake. I have done it many times because I was so nervous. So, now I just sit there keep calm, clear my mind and just think about the track and how I am going to beat the guys. I just keep that on my mind and believe I can do it.

“My best moment so far is when I snapped into it on the Megelli racing last year and we all took off for that one race and I actually kept up with the guys in front. Before I was always coming last, but I managed to start although my take-off was bad because of nerves. I managed to win that race. I came first and think that was the best moment ever because I finally accomplished it,” said Fisher.

Although her brother Richard was influential in her sporting ambition, she never got the opportunity to compete with him on the same track.

“He was supposed to race, but I don’t know he decided against it. But I think he decided against it because I started going faster in 2013. He would have beaten me then, but he passed away in July 2013.

“He also had a whole lot of other things going and didn’t race, but that would have been fun though. Imagine if I beat him, he is probably sitting up there watching me and looking (saying) I would have never raced with you,” said Fisher.

Last weekend Fisher took part in the opening round of the 2015 Telecel Drag Racing Series at Donnybrook in Harare and today she is in Bulawayo competing in the second round of the main circuit racing at the Bulawayo Motoring Club.

Source : The Herald