JONATHAN Rea has described his runner-up spot in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award as a dream come true, having been thrilled just for the nomination nod.
The triple World Superbike champion shocked bookmakers by taking second place in the public vote, losing out to Olympic and World champion athlete Sir Mo Farah by just under 3,000 votes (83,524 to 80,567). Rea beat favourites Anthony Joshua and Lewis Hamilton in the vote to become the best-placed motorcycle racer since John Surtees won the award in 1959.
Speaking to the BBC after the announcement, Rea said: “I’m quite taken back to be honest as I had no ambition or target to be even placed in the awards so to be called out not third but second was incredibly strange and a big surprise.
“This is a public vote so I need to thank each and every person who lifted the phone. There is going to be some phone bill in our little country tonight!
“It means a lot to do this for motorcycling as the last nomination was 10 years ago, so to come back and make an entrance on my Kawasaki race bike and to be voted for by the public is incredible.
“I was just happy to be here and all the talk leading up to the event plus the support on social media. I never in my wildest dreams believed that people would get behind me that much. It is an incredible way to cap 2017 and it is a dream come true to win three world titles on the bounce and to cap it off with this before focusing on 2018 is incredible.”
Rea became the first motorcycle racer nominated since James Toseland made the list in 2007 for his World Superbike title triumph.
The Northern Irish rider added: "At one point on the odds I was fifth favourite to win so I thought ‘no way, this is awesome’, so to be on the podium is incredible. The big names that are on the list but behind me in the public vote is amazing – those guys are my heroes like Chris Froome and Lewis Hamilton. Obviously, whatever I’m doing is the right way so thank you to everyone who voted for me to make my dream come true.”
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