World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea was once again the big winner at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards as he was awarded the Sports Star of the Year Award for the third time in a row.
Rea was honoured at last night’s awards glittering ceremony at Belfast’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, as 18 prizes were handed out to 11 different sports, highlighting a superb year of success for our sporting icons.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame was Ulster and Ireland rugby legend Rory Best.
The 37-year-old amassed a sizeable and hard-earned list of honours from his time playing and captaining both Ulster and Ireland as well as representing the British and Irish Lions.
His name will forever be associated with Ireland’s first ever victory over the mighty All Blacks when he led the side to their epic 40-29 win over the then world champions in Chicago in November 2016.
Football was the most successful sport, scooping four awards, with three prizes given to golf in the year where The Open Championship returned to our shores at Royal Portrush.
Swimming and motor racing were also popular winners as they both received two awards each.
But it was Rea who bagged the top prize after another sensational year as he held off the challenge of Spain’s Alvaro Bautista and his Ducati Panigale to make it an unprecedented five World Superbike titles in a row.
The 32-year-old is now the most successful World Superbike rider of all time, surpassing Carl Fogarty, and the Ballyclare man is determined to make it six on the trot in 2020.
“I’m honoured and thrilled to have won the Belfast Telegraph Sports Star of the Year Award once again and I particularly want to thank the public who took the time to nominate me,” commented Rea, who appeared via video-link from Jerez, where he has started testing ahead of the new season.
“Honestly, it means so much, especially as I prepare for the 2020 World Superbike season ahead.”
Rea has also announced that he will donate his winnings from the first race of the 2020 season at Phillip Island to the Australian bushfire effort.
Rea’s in-laws, parents of wife Tatia, live in north east Victoria, which has been ravaged by the bushfires in recent weeks.
Here's everything you need to know about all of the night's winners and nominees with Gareth Hanna: