Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan Rea's BBC Sports Personality snub has legends shaking their heads

Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea
Jeremy McWilliams
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Two local motorcycling legends have voiced their disappointment after five-in-a-row World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea was passed over for this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Rea does not feature among the six contenders on the 2019 shortlist, the winner of which will be announced next month.

Athletes Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, cricketer Ben Stokes, Formula 1's Lewis Hamilton, footballer Raheem Sterling and rugby union's Alun Wyn Jones have all been named on the list.

Record-breaking Rea was thought to be a strong contender after Northern Ireland sports fans were left bemused and frustrated last year when they weren't given the chance to get behind the 32-year-old.

It's been a stellar year for the man who is arguably the greatest World Superbike rider in its 31-year history after he nailed his fifth consecutive World Championship.

In 2017 Rea picked up over 80,000 votes when he finished runner-up to Mo Farah.

Former British Grand Prix winner and ex-MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams said Rea's exclusion was "a bloody disgrace" and has called for fans to boycott the event.

"For a world champion and someone who has finished first five times in a row, which has never been achieved before, to be overlooked has upset the whole racing fraternity," the veteran motorcycling star said.

"This is a personality award and Jonathan is certainly one of the best personalities that the UK has, never mind Northern Ireland. I really don't know how the BBC come up with these finalists, and there are a couple in there that I am struggling to understand how they would be chosen over Jonathan."

"This is a big disappointment, and while it's one of those shows that everyone sits down and watches, I'll definitely not be tuning in," he added.

North West 200 and Isle of Man TT hero Phillip McCallen said Rea's omission from the contest was "a big insult to Jonathan and to sport worldwide".

He added: "This should have been his year after winning five world championships, which is unreal and doesn't happen every day in any sport.

"From speaking to other motorcyclists, we have all lost faith in that award, as have people in other sports.

"If a five-time world champion doesn't fit into the protocol then there's something wrong and there should be recognition for that. If one of our local stars doesn't feature this year then I've no interest in watching the programme."

A BBC spokesperson said last night: "In what has been an epic year of sport, many contenders were considered and debated by an expert industry panel, who by consensus agreed on the shortlist."

Belfast Telegraph


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