Belfast Telegraph

Biting back: Carl Fogarty deserves to be more famous for bikes than bugs

By Jim Gracey

If the apocryphal stories of the time are true, the name of Ivan Mauger would have been inscribed on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy innumerable times.

Ivan who? Those of a certain vintage will remember the New Zealander as the six-time record winner of the World Speedway Championship between 1968 and 1979.

As the story goes, Speedway fans, in the days before social media, remarkably rallied to flood the Beeb with votes for their man, and succeeded in drumming up even more support than for 1971 winner Princess Anne (who, in turn, handed the trophy over to 1972 winner, our own Dame Mary Peters, who remarked on how clean HRH had kept it). The cutting room floor won out over the Tower. But I digress.

Motorcycle sport has always been popular with the viewers but not the Claudes who decide what we watch on national TV. Which is why Carl Fogarty is more likely to win a public vote on I'm A Celebrity than Sports Personality.

Fogarty put his life on the line to win the World Superbike Championship four times. He also won at the North West 200 where he is revered and regularly returns to a hero's welcome.

Indeed, he told us there how, when he won his first World Superbike title in 1994, he was introduced to the crowd on the centre circle at Ewood Park, before a game, few supporters of his hometown Blackburn Rovers knew who he was.

They'd all have known him at Coleraine Showgrounds and still would.

What a terrible reflection it is on TV's idea of sporting celebrity that a brilliant, brave man like Carl Fogarty will now be better known for eating harmless pasteurised locusts - and making more money from it.

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