Sports Personality of the Year 2017: Jonathan Rea's second place 'beyond wildest dreams'

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Jonathan Rea is stunned after being named runner-up in BBC Sport Personality award

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea says never in his "wildest dreams" did he think he would finish second in Sports Personality of the Year 2017.

The Northern Irishman finished just 2,957 votes behind winner Sir Mo Farah.

Rea, 30, said the achievement was "an incredible way to cap 2017" - a year in which he won his third successive World Superbike title.

"It was incredibly strange, a big surprise. I was just happy to be here" Rea told BBC Northern Ireland.

"All the talking leading up to the event and all the support I had on social media, I could see it all, but I never in my wildest dreams believed that people would get behind me that much.

"It was a public vote so I need to thank everyone that picked up the phone, there will be some phone bill in our little country tonight!"

'It means a lot for motorcycling'

Jonathan Rea
Rea arrived on stage at Liverpool's Echo Arena on his superbike

Rea broke American Colin Edwards' 15-year record for the number of points scored in a season as he won his third title in a row.

He was also made an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours, and hopes his Sports Personality runner-up finish will inspire more people to start following the sport.

"It's been a dream come true to win not one world championship, but now three on the bounce," he added. "To cap it off at the end of the season before I start my preparations for 2018 is just incredible.

"It really means a lot to do this for motorcycling. The last motorcycling nomination was 10 years ago, so to make a nice entrance tonight on my bike and to be voted for by the public is incredible.

"I think if we can bring superbike to more people, it's an amazing weekend out for people to watch and for young children to get involved with, then we've done our job tonight."

Rea finished above contenders including boxer Anthony Joshua, Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

"Chris Froome is my hero," he said. "What Lewis Hamilton has done in F1 this year is unheard of. Obviously, whatever I'm doing on the circuit or how I'm being is the correct way.

"[I am] quite taken aback to be honest, I had no ambition or target to be even placed in the awards."

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