Harare – At age 14, Zimbabwe’s motocross sensation Emmanuel Bako is the sport’s poster boy in Southern Africa.
He has dominated the regional circuit since his debut race when he was just four-years-old.
Yet Bako wasn’t introduced to the sport by an over-eager father or an older brother already in the game. Rather, the racer discovered it himself and started training himself.
He was barely three then.
It never crossed the mind of his father, Brighton, that his son would one day conquer the motocross world.
In fact, Brighton never imagined that he had triggered a lifelong passion and career path when his son asked him for a particular gift when he was a toddler.
“I wanted to buy my son a toy and almost naturally, I opted for a bicycle. To my surprise, he refused. I was taken aback by his refusal given, his age and the fact that many young boys want bicycles. He said he wanted a motorcycle instead. After some consideration, I bought one for him – but it was a difficult decision,” says the elder Bako.
The family kept a close eye on little Emmanuel, always apprehensive that the boy would badly injure himself with the contraption. But with time they realised he had taken to it the way a duck takes to water.
“We didn’t know that by leaving him alone to do his thing unhindered, we were actually creating room for him to train himself. He could go out and come back sometimes with little bruises and sometimes showing signs of fatigue. The passion was unbelievable. Then I started to see talent in him, rather than just passion.”
Brighton then decided to buy him a more advanced motorbike.
That marked the beginning of Emmanuel’s racing career that has so far earned him over 45 medals and several individual and team trophies.
Bako has the 50 Championship title under his belt as well as the 65cc and 85cc regional medals to his name as well.
This year Bako – despite spending most of last year holed up in Zimbabwe due to logistical challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic – has come second in the 50cc and 65cc at the International Championship in South Africa, and he is looking to bettering those showings when he rides in the 85cc in the same country.
Since Emmanuel’s first race, proud father Brighton has never missed a single race his son is in – with in Zimbabwe, in Southern Africa or overseas.
“I know the best is yet to come given the potential he has,” Brighton adds.