Jonathan Rea, the leader of the World Superbikes Championship, is urging people to get involved in the race to find this year’s BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero for Northern Ireland.
The Ballyclare rider, who is based on the Isle of Man, is the 2015 Ambassador for BBC Sport NI’s search to find this year’s local winner of the award. The Unsung Hero award honours individuals from the world of grassroots sport and recognises those who, on a voluntary basis, go the extra mile contributing to sport in their local community.
The Northern Ireland winner will be one of 15 regional winners from across the UK. The overall winner will be announced during the BBC Sports Personality of The Year Awards which will be held in Belfast on Sunday 20 December.
Rea, who is on the brink of securing the World Superbike Championship, recognises his own Unsung Hero for helping him during his career.
He said:“For me it’s my father, Jonny Rea, because he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for my career to date.
“The amount of man hours going in to getting me to this doesn’t start when I suddenly arrive on TV, it starts when I was three years-old prepping my motocross bike every weekend. I think without the sacrifice he’s had to make with both my younger brothers and sisters, my mother, I wouldn’t be in this position without all that voluntary and heartfelt support.”
Jonathan also pays tribute to the legions of volunteers who work behind the scenes and the important part they play to make it possible for young people to realise their sporting dreams.
“It’s a massive part. In the road race world we have marshal volunteers, without them, we couldn’t race in a weekend. We see sport at the top level but nobody sees grassroots, and grassroots is all volunteers. From when I grew up, schoolboy motocross, and the time keepers, the paddock organisers, the people who organise the races, they’re volunteers. Whilst they don’t get headlines in papers or minutes on the news they’re the people that make sport really happen.”