World champ Stephen Rea honoured to receive MBE
Triple World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea has had his services to motorcycle racing honoured with an MBE.
The Ballyclare man was presented with his honour by the Duke of Cambridge at a star-studded ceremony held in Buckingham Palace yesterday.
His wife Tatia and his parents Johnny and Claire were also there to see Rea, the first rider ever to win three WorldSBK titles in a row, collect one of the most prestigious awards of his career.
His success was recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in the summer.
The 30-year-old Co Antrim man joins racing legend and fellow Ulsterman the late Joey Dunlop, along with Superbike champion Carl Fogarty, in receiving the honour.
Rea said he was over the moon with his honour.
"It was an incredible experience to receive the MBE from the Duke of Cambridge," he added.
"The ceremony at Buckingham Palace was so nice and something I will remember forever.
"To be with so many other amazing people, in those surroundings, receiving their own honours was really special.
"Being awarded this award outside of my sport, it makes me so proud of what I have achieved, and to also be held in the same esteem as Joey Dunlop and Carl Fogarty means an awful lot to me.
"I was really lucky to be joined by my wife Tarsh (Tatia) and mum and dad in the audience to witness the presentation.
"They have been so supportive of everything I have done and achieved so I am super happy that they can be part of this day as well."
The racer made the step up into the Supersport World Championship from motocross in 2008 and ever since has been competing in the top class.
Rea claimed a staggering 15 victories in his first full campaign in 2009.
He currently lives in Jerez in Spain where he is training with the KRT squad testing the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR ahead of the 2018 season.
His latest win at Magny-Cours, just three weeks ago, sparked calls from the Northern Ireland public to see the biker make it onto the nominee list of BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2017 - the winner will be crowned on December 17.
Although at the time his odds stood at 200-1, they dropped overnight when an online petition gathered momentum and was hand-delivered by bikers to Beeb executives at the BBC's Media City in Manchester.
Rea said to win Sports Personality of the Year would be a "dream come true".
The list of nominations is expected to be announced next week.