Jonathan Rea: Five-time World Superbikes champion wins NI Sports Personality of the Year

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Rea picks up Sports Personality award

Five-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea is the 2019 BBC Northern Ireland Sports Personality of the Year.

It is the second time the Ballyclare racer has scooped the accolade having won it previously in 2017 when he completed a hat-trick of world titles.

The Kawasaki rider added a fourth in 2018 before securing an unprecedented fifth consecutive title this year with 17 race wins over the season.

In doing so, he became the most decorated rider in World Superbike history, finishing with the most points for one season, coming from behind after a tough start to the year.

It was a unanimous decision from the panel of judges with Bethany Firth and Rory McIlroy making up the top three.

"I am thrilled to win the award again," said Rea.

"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 sports men 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.

Stephen Watson
Stephen Watson, left, presents Jonathan Rea with the 2019 BBC Northern Ireland Sports Personality of The Year award

"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, BBC Sport NI's executive editor, added: "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 group sports editor, Darren Fullerton, Mirror Media Ireland chief sports reporter, Nikki Gregg, BBC Sportsound Extra-Time presenter, Kenny Archer, Irish News sports reporter, Thomas Kane, BBC Sport NI senior broadcast journalist, Neil Brittain, BBC Sport NI executive editor.

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