What you need to know:
- For Anwar, this Kenya-Greece connection will be very visible and it will be interesting to see how he performs as he chases the coveted finisher's badge.
- Anwar, aged 25, has been a revelation over the last two years after rising with ease through the ranks to claim a place in the FIA Rally Star Programme.
One of the most successful stories of motorsports this season peaks this weekend on the hills overlooking the small city of Lamia, Greece, which hosts the 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Resilient Hamza Anwar currently lying ninth in the Federation Internationale de 'I Automobile (FIA) Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) with 28 points, is quietly racing in the JWRC, first with Adnan Din, then Kenyan-born American Alex Kahurani, in a season which had its hiccups at the beginning before everything settled for a successful WRC Safari Rally.
It is not common for the Kenyan flag to be flown internationally in motorsports but Anwar has done a commendable job starting his international debut in snowy and icy Sweden before heading to Croatia, Portugal, Estonia and now concluding a very busy year in Greece WRC Rally.
Only comparable to Portugal in the European segment of the WRC, Greece is celebrating its 70th-anniversary just like the Safari Rally in June.
For Anwar, this Kenya-Greece connection will be very visible and it will be interesting to see how he performs as he chases the coveted finisher's badge.
Anwar, aged 25, has been a revelation over the last two years after rising with ease through the ranks to claim a place in the FIA Rally Star Programme.
The programme has recently seen the emergence of Anwar and his compatriots McRae Kimathi, a student in last year’s FIA junior programme and fast-rising Jeremiah Wahome, who has already won a Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) event, the first by an indigenous African driver in over quarter of a century.
The three drivers basically form the first Kenya National Rally Team. They were also very active on the continental scene last year.
They are strongly challenging for top honours in the KNRC series.
Anwar deserves not only a pat on the back but also support from sponsors besides Kenya Airways and Safaricom, similar to what athletes and volleyballers have received from the state for two reasons.
First, winning an FIA-sanctioned event like the WRC is not just a driver and co-driver affair. There is an armada of equipment and personnel to bring the car to the finish, and it is not cheap to buy one.
It is actually a huge investment, and the sacrifices of drivers and, especially, private support, has remained the backbone of the WRC Safari Rally for the last 70 years.
Second, motorsport is very competitive, and every driver wants glory although we have had only four different world rally champions in the last 20 years.
In Anwar's case, for example, besides self-satisfaction, he has also single-handedly promoted brand Kenya to an international audience to supplement the efforts of his compatriots in other disciplines, notably athletics.
It is no longer in doubt that WRC Safari Rally is the most popular sporting event in Kenya.
I can go further and say that apart from athletics, Kenya is also curving a niche in motorsports worldwide.
It is therefore prudent for the government to extend the same support it offers to all sports people representing this country in international competition. Anwar has to rely on friends and family to fund his JWRC campaign.
As a start, the Ministry of Sports should meet the cost of Anwar's accommodation, ground expenditure, and local and international allowances when preparing for an international assignment just like it did for athletics and volleyball teams that competed in the world and African championships respectively last month.
The $200 daily sustenance allowance may not be much for a driver who is accommodating himself in a foreign country it will go a long way in playing a part in his success in rallying.
The government certainly deserves a part on the shoulder for rewarding all drivers who competed in the WRC Safari Rally this year. Supporting the JWRC is also desirable.
Meanwhile, best of luck Anwar and your team in Greece.