Gone are the days that women have to take a backseat to men, especially in sport.
If the 2020 Dakar can be remembered for one thing, it should be that two South African women conquered all the challenges that came their way to reach the end of the race.
Kirsten Landman and Taye Perry overcame the Dakar and, despite facing uncertainties both before and during the race, they came home in spectacular fashion. And even more amazing, they completed the near-8000km race on motorbikes!
Landman, a 28-year-old from Durban, completed the two-week-long race in an excellent 55th place overall, while Perry (29) came home in 77th place. Their positions make it even more special because, after the death of Paulo Goncalves, more than two-thirds of the bike competitors withdrew from the race.
But not them, because throwing in the towel was never on the cards.
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Overcoming the challenges
For Landman, the thought of participating in the grueling Dakar was never an option. It's not that she couldn't, but rather that she had demons to conquer.
Being on a motorbike saddle since she was eight, Landman participated in numerous endurance races, but things took a turn for the worst when an accident occurred while participating in an event in Botswana. The misfortune left her in a coma for days.
Landman let it slip that it wasn't easy getting in the frame of mind for the Dakar and that it took her two years to prepare for it. An integral part of her preparation was Joey Evans. Evans participated in the Dakar three years ago, but his motivation is more than just skin deep.
Why? Because Evans is partially disabled and completed that year's event successfully.
Landman drew inspiration from this and repeated Evans' feat by crossing the finish line on her KTM.
Tough final days
Between these two phenomenal women, Perry will rue her missed chances of not finishing higher than 77th. At the start of the second last day, Perry was sitting in 49th position overall. 240km into the day's marathon stage, Perry fell off her KTM - leaving the bike unable to continue the stage.
Stuck hundreds of kilometers from the bivouac, a fellow competitors from the car category gave her a helping hand and towed her in. However, under the regulations, Perry had to push her bike for the last few hundred meters. Once over the finish line, Perry and her team worked through the night - getting by on minimal sleep - just so that she could line up for the last stage of the race.
Perry, who was known all-around as the smallest competitor in this year's race, showed great spirit and kept her cool to finish in emphatic fashion.
To the South African women of #Dakar2020, we salute you. And well done on your deserved results.