NI sport is set to get behind champion Rea
Triple World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea will be honoured in Belfast today, hopefully boosting his claims to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday night.
A massive online campaign by bike fans, backed up by an army of local wellwishers, has placed the Ballyclare bike ace in a challenging position to the favourites - boxer Anthony Joshua and Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Rea will be chief guest at a star-studded Belfast Waterfront Legends of Sport Lunch today in aid of the Sport Changes Life and Mary Peters Trust charities.
Top sporting names in attendances will include Northern Ireland and Republic football managers Michael and Martin O'Neill, world champion boxer Ryan Burnett, the new star of the motorcycle racing firmament Glenn Irwin and players from Ulster's 1999 European Cup winning team, with James Nesbitt as compere.
Speaking about his BBC Sports Personality nomination, Rea told the Belfast Telegraph: "It is important for motorcycle racing that I have been recognised, although I am now nervous about being in such exalted company, most of whom I have never met before. Making this short-list is one thing, to be in the top three would be entirely different."