World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea wins BBC Northern Ireland Sports Personality of the Year award

Six-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea has been named as the BBC Northern Ireland Sports Personality of the Year for 2020.

By Kyle White
Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 8:08 pm
Jonathan Rea has been named BBC NI's Sports Personality of the Year for a third time.
Jonathan Rea has been named BBC NI's Sports Personality of the Year for a third time.

The Northern Ireland man has clinched the world title in successive seasons each year since he joined Kawasaki in 2015 to become the most successful rider in World Superbike history.

Rea, who has also chalked up a record 99 career victories, has won the BBC NI SPOTY award twice previously and is now equal with golfer Rory McIlroy as the only sportspeople from Northern Ireland to have won the accolade three times in all.

“It’s a huge honour to win BBC Sport NI’s Sports Personality of the year award,” said Rea.

“In what’s been a tough year for sport it’s a blessing that we managed to get our championship completed and to bring another World Championship back to Northern Ireland makes me very proud.

“I’ve missed all the travelling support this season and I’m excited to get the fans back trackside as soon as possible. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in Northern Ireland for their continued support and to thank BBC Sport NI for this award,” he added.

“I would also like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a healthy new year.”

In 2017, Rea finished as the runner-up in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year behind Sir Mo Farah, trailing the athlete by only 3,000 votes.

However, despite his continued success, he has been a glaring ommission from the shortlist in the intervening years.

The 33-year-old edged out middle distance runner Ciara Mageean for the BBC NI honour, who enjoyed her most successful season to date, breaking a number of records and becoming the first Irish female to smash the two-minute barrier for 800 metres.

The judging panel also felt it was appropriate to recognise the achievements of three other sportsmen and women: Northern Ireland international footballers Stuart Dallas and Rachel Furness as well as Cavan Gaelic Footballer Thomas Galligan, who were all included in a ‘highly commended’ category.

Lady Mary Peters, who is on the judging panel, said: “While it has been a strange and difficult year for all of us, our sportsmen and women have continued to excel on the world stage. There have been so many inspirational performances over the last 12 months, however the judging panel felt that Jonathan Rea once again deserved the 2020 award after another remarkable season.

“He is a fantastic ambassador for Northern Ireland who continues to rewrite the history books.

“The panel also felt that Ciara Mageean deserved special praise after breaking a number of records in what should have been an Olympic Year. Ciara was in fantastic form, and becoming the first Irish women to run under two minutes for the 800 metres is a stand-out achievement.

“It is also important to recognise the achievements of Rachel, Stuart and Thomas in a year like no other.”

Neil Brittain, Executive Editor BBC Sport NI, added: “To win six World Superbike Championships in a row is a remarkable sporting achievement and that combined with the impact that Jonathan Rea has made on motorsport this year makes him a well-deserved winner of this award.

“He is a fantastic ambassador for Northern Ireland and, in what has been such a challenging year for everyone, he has inspired and lifted people across the country with his unprecedented success.”

* A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Irish and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than five articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. To subscribe, click here.Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Thank you,

Alistair Bushe

Editor