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Phillip McCallen: We all know the risks at when we climb onto powerful motorbikes

By Phillip McCallen

Published 16/05/2016

Malachi Mitchell-Thomas
Malachi Mitchell-Thomas
Malachi Mitchell-Thomas playfully fixes his father’s hat at a race meeting
Kevin Thomas says he is proud of his late son Malachi
From left: Kevin Thomas, Malachi Mitchell-Thomas, his sister Rhiannon Mitchell-Thomas and grandad Kev Thomas
Kevin Thomas with his young son Malachi Mitchell-Thomas
Kevin Thomas with his young son Malachi Mitchell-Thomas
Malachi Mitchell-Thomas in action

After tragic incidents like at the weekend you always get somebody calling for road racing to be banned - but it shouldn't.

We hear this every time. When people drown they are not all jumping up and down shouting let's ban boats, fishing or sailing. It is just because we are such a high-profile, exciting, high-adrenaline sport that they have decided to have a go at us.

When people tragically get killed in their cars, do we ban all car driving? No. There is a risk every day in life. In road racing we know the risks, we ride motorbikes and we love it, but we always pray and hope it never happens to us, or to anyone.

It is just unfortunate that that is the most terrible thing that can happen in our sport and it is just so sad that it did happen.

I was in the pits area on Saturday afternoon. I work with newcomers to the event on safety and also with the BBC, and was in the paddock when it all happened.

When something happens you don't know at first what is going on. There is a privacy and a discretion around what has happened because when there is an accident it could be a simple fall or it could be a fatality, because this is a dangerous sport.

Nine out of 10 times it is someone who has spun off and they maybe have a bruise or a broken bone, but when there is a period of time before there is any news coming back to the paddock, then a shiver runs down your back and you just worry something bad has happened.

The devastating news on Saturday was tragic. No one deserves that, but for it to happen to a lad like Malachi was just unreal. It is just something that should not have happened. It reminds every one of the dangers.

In the public's eyes it puts a cloud over the sport. The people who criticise it don't understand the sport and don't understand the love and the passion in it. I don't start criticising other sports.

I had met Malachi after people were talking about him in recent weeks and everybody had just good things to say about him. I actually did some 'drifting' in a car with him for a piece for TV.

I spent quite a bit of time with him. We are both bike fanatics. He has raced bikes since he was six years old in some form or other. He was a great person; I never met a person who I have been impressed by so quickly in my life.

When he was talking to you, you could tell he was telling the truth. He had proper life and bike experiences.

He was just one of those lads, he had a really nice character, a lovely character, a genuine good character.

He was just a lad who when he touched a bike or touched a throttle in a car, he could do it properly. I joked if he could drive a bike as well as he could a car he would do well.

I could not believe the tragic news which emerged just a few days later.

Belfast Telegraph

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