Eight-year-old Gitau Munene, a class two pupil at Nova Pioneer School in Nairobi, shocked many after he garnered 800 points to win the beginners’ class category at last weekend’s Jumbo Charge 4x4 Mt Elgon Challenge in Cheptais, Mt Elgon.
Gitau, who has previously participated in the Aberdare Challenge, also won the Mt Kenya 4x4 Challenge at Charana Farm, Meru County in August this year.
In an interview with the Nation Sport on Sunday, Gitau attributed his win to the skills he has acquired from his father, Wilson Munene, who doubles as his navigator in their Range Rover P38 series.
“When I won in the Charana 4x4 Challenge in Meru County last August, I was motivated to try a hand in the Mt Elgon Challenge and indeed, it’s true my good driving skills in rough terrain enabled me win in the challenge,” said Gitau.
'GOOD, EASY AND FUN'
Gitau, who started driving at the age of six, termed the challenge as “good, easy and fun.”
“There was a lot of mud but the car I had, a Range Rover P38, was able to cruise through the rough terrain because that is what the entire sport entails."
“Being on Mashujaa Day, I feel like I am a champion and a hero.”
He urged parents with children who have interest in motor sport to allow them nurture their talents instead of restricting them.
The main aim of the three day-event on the slopes of Mt Elgon is to raise funds towards wildlife and environment conservation through tree planting.
“I will be back another time to do another challenge and plant trees in conserving the environment,” said the excited Gitau.
In the advanced category, Andrew Keitany won with 768 points while Wanderi Joseph Karira was second with 507. Seasoned, Eldoret-based Hudson Khasian came in third with 486.
Munene said that he was so proud of his son’s achievement in the competition that was in its sixth edition this year.
“As a parent I am so proud because my son has won. I cannot explain it but I am so proud of him. Being Mashujaa Day, I must say that he is my hero today and we shall keep on doing it until I retire from the driver's seat,” said Munene.
“We need to get out of our comfort zones and plant trees, or else the third generation won't see enough of our wild animals like the elephants. It's a worrying trend how the trees have gone down in Mt Elgon,” he added.
Despite the heavy rains pounding the area, Gitau was able to outshine adult drivers during the challenge.
“Rains have been too much for the past three days and most vehicles were unable to compete in the challenge, but we want to plant more trees so that the rain pattern comes back to where it used to be previously about 10-15 years ago,” added Munene.
NURTURING YOUNG TALENTS
Jumbo Charge Chairman, Charles Mulupi called upon the government and other stakeholders to come forward and support the sport.
“We encourage everyone to support us by coming out in large numbers whenever we are here for the challenge. Our aim is to ensure that we protect our environment.
“We are using sports to conserve the environment. We shall move to Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi for the same course,” he explained.
Mulupi noted that there is need for parents to start nurturing the young talents at a tender age.
“It is good that Gitau has a parent who believes in him so much. The father has been helping him practice all along even before this challenge.
“His father is also a motor sports driver and his son is now emulating him,” he said.