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Jonathan Rea reveals Northern Ireland trait that keeps World Superbike champion grounded

Belfast Live logo Belfast Live 14/05/2021 Gareth Fullerton

He may be a six-time World Superbike champion, but there's little chance of Jonathan Rea letting the fame and success go to his head.

The Co Antrim rider returns to action next week when the opening round of the 2021 WSBK season clicks into gear in Aragon, Spain.

Rea has dominated the championship over the past six years, and at 34 years of age he believes he has plenty more gas in the tank as he looks to add to his tally.

He has already cemented his name in the pantheon of Northern Ireland's sporting legends, with an MBE and Freedom of the Borough honours accelerating his popularity among fans.

But as with many sporting heroes from these shores, Rea remains grounded despite his achievements on the world stage.

And he believes that self-effacing nature is down to family and friends who would soon put the brakes on any arrogance from the Kawasaki star.

a man riding a motorcycle on a track: Jonathan Rea has won six successive World Superbike championships © Getty Jonathan Rea has won six successive World Superbike championships

"I notice that trend with sportspeople from Northern Ireland. I don't think there any arrogant sportspeople here," Rea said.

"Maybe that's down to the upbringing from families, but maybe more possibly that here in Northern Ireland your mates wouldn't let you get carried away with being a d***.

"They can be brutally honest, and you would never live it down. So you always remain grounded.

"There are plenty of people to tell you you are doing okay, but there are plenty more to tell you when you're getting carried away."

Rea received the Freedom of Mid and East Antrim Borough during a recent ceremony at Larne Town Hall.

He says the reception brought home just what he has achieved in his career.

"It is just nice to be recognised outside of sport," he added.

:" have so many sports awards around the house, but this is recognition from a wider audience and it is nice.

"I grew up and went to school in Larne, and this was in the Town Hall. It is something that has been in the pipeline, but due to Covid we hadn't been able to do it until recently. So it was nice to receive it.

"They said some really nice words and it made what I have achieved down the years sink in a bit more. And it has made me even more motivated to keep going."

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