As a Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK rider with two world championships in his locker Jonathan Rea is well used to earning plaudits for his on-track exploits. As well as these sporting rewards he has now also been given an important honorary award – an MBE.
In recognition of his sporting achievements Rea was recently awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire medal) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
There are a few different types of honours that the British Crown gives out, twice per year, to worthy recipients who have performed some kind of service, or an achievement that benefits the nation or its international standing. Jonathan has now been officially recognised in the UK as worthy of such recognition.
Rea explained the process of how it came about. “I received a letter a couple of months ago to accept that my name had been put forward for the MBE and I ticked the box that says, “Yes I do” and sent it back!”
Receiving this kind of recognition is a real honour in the UK, and not just for Rea himself. “I think the most important thing is that I got more messages on my phone about the MBE than I did when I won the championship,” said Jonathan. “It seems like a bigger accolade to have, for the general public. It means that you are recognised in open society, not just as a niche sport. That means a lot. It is nice to get motorcycling recognised in the mainstream. Maybe the young Princes had something to do with it, selling motorsport to the Queen?”
Rea joins some other illustrious British bike racers in receiving an official honour, as Rea is well aware. “Also, heroes like Joey Dunlop have achieved not just an MBE but and OBE (Order of the British Empire) as well, so to join him as a Member of the British Empire is really cool,” said Jonathan. “Also Foggy (Carl Fogarty), the most dominant Superbike rider of all time. So I am putting my name along with good people.”
His KRT team-manager, Guim Roda, said of Jonathan’s award, “We saw in the media during race weekend at Misano that Jonathan had received this award. Within the team, which is based in Spain, we didn’t know the real status of it until his assistant, Kev, explained the full meaning. We are so happy for Johnny and we can assure Her Majesty that she will give the medal not only to a great sportsman but also to an incredible person - a kind and very committed one. We all must be happy for Johnny and I’m sure he will represent this honour well.”