Sports Personality of the Year: Anger as Jonathan Rea misses out on shortlist

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Image source, Stephen Davison/Pacemaker
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Jonathan Rea has won six straight World Superbike Championships

Jonathan Rea has missed out on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award shortlist again.

The decision to omit Mr Rea comes off the back of a record-breaking six consecutive World Superbike wins.

The motorcyclist, from Larne, County Antrim, finished runner-up in the 2017 competition, just 3,000 votes behind runner Sir Mo Farah.

First Minister Arlene Foster said it was "an absolute disgrace" Mr Rea was not included in this year's shortlist.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme, the DUP leader said she will not be watching the programme this year "because, for me, Jonathan Rea is the Sports Personality of the Year".

The matter also made it to the House of Commons proceedings on Wednesday with DUP MP Paul Girvan raising it to Minister of State Robin Walker.

Mr Girvan expressed his "deep disappointment" that the sportsman had missed out, to which Mr Walker jokingly replied that he would "fear to tread in such a contentious area".

Superbike fans have also vented their frustration on Twitter, expressing disbelief that his historic achievements have gone without recognition.

'Not really shocked'

BBC Sport NI presenter Stephen Watson, speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback, said Rea "deserves to be on the list".

"If he was good enough as a three-time world champion in 2017, he has now absolutely obliterated the records in World Superbike," he said.

"In 2017 Jonathan Rea came close to winning and to be honest, the BBC don't want someone like Jonathan Rea winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, because he's not from a mainstream sport, he's not one of the highest profile sportsmen in the UK, that's my opinion.

"Why not just put loads of people on the list? Jonathan Rea came within 3,000 votes of beating Sir Mo Farah in 2017 - that wasn't just a Northern Ireland vote, that was a vote from the motorcycling fraternity across the UK.

"The judging panel is not representative of the four nations because for the second year in a row, there is nobody from Northern Ireland on that panel and that is causing some consternation with many people out there."

'Creates history every year'

Commentator and pundit Liam Beckett said he was "not really shocked to be honest, disappointed more so".

"I expected Jonathan to win this a couple of years ago and then the story continues, he creates history every year and still not nominated this year.

"I would have to say, and this may be offensive to some people, I do believe if Jonathan Rea would have been English, he would have been Sports Personality of the Year, years ago.

"I don't watch it anymore, I think it's lost all its credibility, that award, and I won't be watching it this year."

A BBC spokesperson said: "The shortlist is selected by an independent panel who consider many different sportspeople.

"The nominees shortlisted were decided by the panel to be those who had made the biggest sporting impact this year."

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