Sport

Who is Jonathan Rea, the man who just came second in 'Sports Personality of the Year'?

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Tom Victor
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No one’s heard of the guy who came second in the Sports Personality of the Year vote

The Sports Personality of the Year award was handed out last night, with Sir Mo Farah finally claiming the prize after a number of near misses.

The long-distance runner, whose double-double at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro wasn’t enough for him to deny Sir Andy Murray, claimed top honours after winning gold in the 10,000m and silver in the 5,000m at the World Championships in London, before stating his intention to turn his attentions to longer-distance running.

However, the remainder of the podium came as a surprise, with much-fancied Anthony Joshua taking fourth spot and Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton down in sixth.

Third-placed Jonnie Peacock became a household name at the London Paralympics, and his 100m gold at the worlds this year saw him run Farah close, but the presence of Jonathan Rea in second place came as a shock to those who only tend to watch more mainstream sports.

However, for those familiar with Rea’s achievements, it was no surprise at all.

superbikes

Rea, from Northern Ireland, has won the Superbike World Championship three years in a row

Rea, from Northern Ireland, is among the most dominant world leaders in any sporting pursuit, having won the Superbike World Championship for three years running.

While the first two victories were not enough to earn the 30-year-old a place on the SPOTY podium, the third was arguably even more dominant.

Rea took a podium spot in every single race he finished this season, totting up 16 wins from 26 races in 2017 – the second highest tally in history and the highest this century.

Put that way, it’s easy to see why he has received such acclaim for his achievements, but plenty of viewers were unfamiliar with him to say the least.

“[I’m] quite taken aback to be honest,” Rea told the BBC after the winners were announced.

“I had no ambition or target to even be placed in the awards, so to be called out… second was incredibly strange, a big surprise.

“It really means a lot to do this for motorcycling – the last motorcycle nomination was 10 years ago, so to make a nice entrance tonight on my Kawasaki race bike and to be voted for by the public…[it’s] incredible to be second.”

We imagine a fair few more people will be tuning in to the 2018 championships as Rea tries to make it four in a row.

(Images: Rex)