Jonathan Rea has been named the BBC Northern Ireland Sports Personality of the year after another record-breaking 2020.
The Ballyclare rider claimed the World Superbike title for the sixth consecutive season, rewriting the record books in the process.
It is the third time he has won the BBC Northern Ireland SPOTY award, an achievement only matched by Rory McIlroy.
Rea edged out middle distance runner Ciara Mageean. The Portaferry athlete has her most successful season to date, breaking a number of records and becoming the first Irish female to break 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, were all included in a ‘highly commended’ category.
Jonathan Rea, six times World Superbike Champion said:
“It’s a huge honour to win BBC Sport NI’s Sports Personality of the year award. 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. I would also like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a healthy new year.”
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 said:
“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.”
The judging panel was Olympic gold medallist, Lady Mary Peters, Kenny Archer, Irish News, Neil Brittain, Executive Editor BBC Sport NI, Darren Fullerton Daily Mirror, Jim Gracey, Sunday Life Sports Editor, Nikki Gregg, BBC Northern Ireland and Chair, Thomas Kane, BBC Sport NI.
Words courtesy BBC Sport NI | Images courtesy of BBC Sport NI & www.jonathan-rea.com