Cycling community mourns death of Olympian Billy Kerr
Northern Ireland’s cycling fraternity has been rocked by the death of former Olympian Billy Kerr, described as “one of the best in his day”.
Mr Kerr passed away on Tuesday evening after a short illness. He was 67.
The popular cyclist was renowned across Ireland for his prowess on two wheels.
He represented Northern Ireland at two Commonwealth Games and Ireland in the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.
Mr Kerr’s talent in the saddle shot the name of Ballymena to the forefront of amateur cycling after back-to-back successes in the prestigious Tour of the North race in 1978 and 1979.
Immediately after his second victory he won the Sealink International Stage Race in England.
He then went on to win the Ras Tailteann, the Tour of Ireland, Northern Ireland and All Ireland race championships.
It was inevitable his talent would be recognised further afield and he was called up for the Commonwealths and Olympics.
Closer to home, Mr Kerr’s exploits were recognised in his home borough when he was inducted into Ballymena Borough Council’s Sporting Hall of Fame a few years ago.
A statement on Irishcycling.com paid tribute to Mr Kerr.
It read: “He was simply one of the best in his day.
“Sadly, last evening, the Ballymena Road Club cyclist, Billy Kerr passed away.
“Billy Kerr brought not only the club to a higher level but he was renowned for his ability to perform at international level.
“He was at his best in the late 1970s. He brought further success for club and country when he won the Tour of the North in 1978 and ’79 and immediately after his second victory won the Sealink International Stage Race in England. His list of wins is an indication as to the ability of the man.
“Of late he had been suffering bad health, but for those of us who remembered his prowess, a light went out last evening. RIP.”
Mr Kerr will be buried in Ballymena later this week.