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Record-breaking Jonathan Rea snubbed for BBC Sports Personality award


World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea

Fans of Northern Ireland motorcycling star Jonathan Rea were quick off the grid last night to slam the BBC after the record-breaking six times World Superbike champion again failed to make the list of nominations for the Sports Personality of the Year award.

The Co Antrim racer's popularity was underlined in 2017 when he finished second in the prestigious awards, handed out by the BBC at the end of every year.

A public vote took place on the night as the show was airing and when the phone lines closed he was only 3,000 votes behind winner, Sir Mo Farah.

A year later, the BBC decided to cut the number of nominations to six, selected by an expert panel. He has not been nominated since.

BBC NI sports presenter Stephen Watson seemed a little taken aback by the snub, taking to Twitter to say: "No #SPOTY nomination for 2017 runner up @jonathanrea who won a record breaking 6th World Superbike title in a row." The tweet was followed by a shrugging emoji.

UTV presenter and motorsport fan Pamela Ballantine said: "What a shame @jonathanrea is not shortlisted for @BBC #SPOTY Obviously 6 World Superbike Titles in a row is not enough."

Big racing fan and Sunday Life columnist Liam Beckett said the decision to omit Larne racer Rea from the list was "an absolute disgrace" while sports broadcaster and journalist Steven Beacom added: "Poor decision. Not for the first time. Jonathan Rea deserves to be on the shortlist. He has had another magnificent year."

The six nominations for this year's awards, which will be broadcast live on the BBC from Media City in Salford on December 20, are all from England. They are cricketer Stuart Broad, jockey Hollie Doyle, boxer Tyson Fury, Formula 1's Lewis Hamilton, England and Liverpool footballer Jordan Henderson and snooker star Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Rea continued his domination of his sport by claiming his sixth world title in Portugal in October, making him the most successful World Superbike rider in the championship's history. He also holds the highest number of race wins in the superbike championship.

He was awarded an MBE in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to motorcycle racing.

Belfast Telegraph