Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan Rea deserves better than a SPOTY snub

 

History maker: The much overlooked Jonathan Rea lifts yet another FIM Superbike World Championship earlier this year
History maker: The much overlooked Jonathan Rea lifts yet another FIM Superbike World Championship earlier this year

By Roy Harris

As he prepares for the final two-day World Superbike test in Jerez prior to the winter break, surely the furthest thing from successive five-time World Champion Jonathan Rea's mind is his omission from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year final six nominations.

Is it a surprise? No.

Should he be in there? Of course.

When he finished runner-up in SPotY after clinching his third successive World Championship in 2017, much to the chagrin of the BBC hierarchy, the rules for nomination were changed (12 down to six) and overseen by a panel of 'experts.' 

This used to be a public vote whittled down to a final six before the 'big night' when the winner was announced.

Let's be honest about this, motorcycle racing in the UK is considered a minority sport and when Rea finished second many people asked: "Jonathan who?"

He's not the first, and I'm sure not the last, great sports personality ignored by an establishment who think sport revolves around kicking a ball, smacking a round cork object layered with tightly wound string with a piece of willow, racing a F1 car with a PlayStation controller at your fingertips or World Championship athletics performed in an empty stadium in Qatar.

Nowadays, it has to be all about what pleases the masses and motorcycle racing does not fit their criteria.

Should Rea be bothered? Not one bit. He is loved and adored by his fans worldwide and will go down as the greatest World Superbike rider in the history of the series.

He has received awards and plaudits from inside and outside the industry.

He was awarded the MBE for services to motorcycling; the work he does behind the scenes for the grassroots of the sport is immense and, to crown it all, he is a humble family man.

To claim his fifth successive World Championship in 2019, Rea had to produce performances out of the top drawer to make what has been described as the greatest World Championship comeback in history, reducing a 61-point deficit to rival Alvaro Bautista, who had won the first 11 races of the season.

Rea achieved this with tenacity, tremendous ability, never-say-die attitude, dedication and a will to win.

This will blow over and Rea will get on with what he does best and will receive award after award over the next few months reflecting on his achievements of putting Northern Ireland on the sporting map.

SPotY is supposedly to highlight and reward great British achievements in the last year - Jonathan Rea thoroughly deserved to be in the final six, his achievement in 2019 unrivalled.

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