New World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea back home for big party... but it's his wee boy Jake who's celebrating
Northern Ireland's newly crowned World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea finally landed back on home soil yesterday, although not to celebrate his global motorcycling triumph, but to organise his son Jake's second birthday party.
It's been a busy few days for the 28-year-old Ballyclare man, whose phone hasn't stopped ringing since he clinched the title in Spain on Sunday morning. But he's certainly not complaining.
He said: "It was humbling for me to see so many Northern Ireland flags and fans in Spain on Sunday after being able to put this little place back on the sporting map for motorcycling."
On his return to the province Rea, who was accompanied by Jake, said: "Unfortunately my wife Tatia has had to stay at home this weekend because she's heavily pregnant and probably overdid it a little bit in Spain at the weekend.
"Jake is two on Sunday, so it will be nice to spend some time with friends and family, but on my world title, it really hasn't quite sunk it yet.
"Yes, it feels great to have finally ticked the box as I have been working towards this for a very long time."
Rea wasn't even born when Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid won the last of NI's world titles back in 1986, but said he was lucky enough to meet Dunlop.
"My grandad sponsored Joey and with my dad also racing in a similar era, I was lucky enough to spend time in Joey's company when he was one of the top names in the sport," said Rea.
Earlier this week the Belfast Telegraph featured 12-year-old Carrickfergus College schoolboy Scott Swann, who will embark on his first season in the British championship next year. Speaking of young Swann, the new world champion said: "I know his dad and I'm confident he will make sure Scott is surrounded by the right people, which would be my first bit of advice.
"Yes, there's a lot of sacrifice if you want to be successful in this game, but, most importantly, he must make sure he enjoys it," he said.
Rea added: "It's nice to be able to put Northern Ireland on the sporting map alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy and Carl Frampton, but this weekend is all about Jake and his second birthday."