Belfast Telegraph

Rea gets his hands on BBC Personality award, after all

 

Honoured: Jonathan Rea accepts his BBC NI award from Stephen Watson
Honoured: Jonathan Rea accepts his BBC NI award from Stephen Watson

By Robert Jones

BBC Northern Ireland has unashamedly broken ranks with its national counterpart by declaring five in a row World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea their Sports Personality of 2019.

Templepatrick-based Rea's exclusion even from nominations for the network BBC's Sports Personality of the Year awards caused consternation among his hundreds of thousands of fans.

Now, local BBC have provided them with a consolation by independently acknowledging Kawasaki rider Rea's achievements. It's the second time he has scooped the accolade, having won it previously in 2017 when he completed a hat trick of world titles.

It was a unanimous decision from the panel of judges, with double world gold medal swimmer Bethany Firth and world golf No2 Rory McIlroy making up the top three.

Jonathan said: "I am thrilled to win the award again. It's so nice to be honoured at home in Northern Ireland and it's great for motorcycle racing to get the recognition it deserves, especially since we've so many locally talented sportsmen and women across a variety of different sport disciplines.

"I'm just back from Japan after catching up with all our engineers and staff that are always in the background, but make things happen. The trip has given me a chance to reflect on what a year it has been. I'm truly grateful to my team, sponsors and family for being there for me every step of the way and supporting me when times were tough, especially at the start of the season.

"As for my fans? Well, I'm genuinely humbled by the loyalty they show me year after year, particularly when they travel from home to races all over the world.

"I'm looking forward to just relaxing now over the festive season and having some family time before testing in the New Year. And can I take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and Prosperous 2020."

Neil Brittain, Executive Editor BBC Sport NI said: "In Northern Ireland we are lucky to have so many outstanding world class sports people. Making this decision wasn't easy but when you consider what Jonathan has achieved in World Superbikes it's just remarkable. He had to show real hunger, grit and determination to win a fifth title. On top of that, he's a tremendous ambassador for his country and his sport and a thoroughly deserving winner."

The judging panel was Lady Mary Peters, Jim Gracey, Belfast Telegraph, Darren Fullerton, Mirror Media Ireland, Nikki Gregg, presenter, BBC Sportsound Extra-Time, Kenny Archer, Irish News, Thomas Kane, Senior Broadcast Journalist BBC Sport NI and Neil Brittain.

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