Bradford's speedway legend Gary Havelock is forced to retire after injury battle (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford's speedway legend Gary Havelock is forced to retire after injury battle
Bradford’s greatest ever speedway rider Gary Havelock has announced his retirement from the sport.
Havelock, 44, rode for the now defunct Odsal-based Dukes from 1986 until their closure in 1997.
But the 1992 World Champion has not competed since being involved in a horrific pile-up racing for Premier League Redcar against Edinburgh last March.
He sustained fractures to his left arm, shoulder and ribs while also incurring severe nerve damage and, over 11 months on, is still battling to regain use of the limb.
Over the weekend Havelock issued a statement saying: “It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from the sport of speedway racing with immediate effect. My battle with the nerve injuries in my arm has just been one bad injury too far.
“At the moment it is a daily struggle to try and restore full feeling back into my arm, so riding a bike would be impossible.This was never the way I wanted to retire but fate, I guess, has a hand waiting for all of us.
“I feel very lucky to have been able to make a long and successful career out of something I loved doing most, riding my bike fast.
“It has been a privilege and an honour to represent my country at all levels and to represent some of the world’s greatest clubs.
“I will be forever grateful to all the people who have helped me along the way, not least my family.
“There are lots of memories I want to share and people I would like to thank but now is not the time for that, while I just concentrate on trying to get fit and look forward to the next chapter of my life.”
During a glittering if sometimes controversial career Havelock won the British title twice, in 1991 and 1992, the second year going on to win the World Championship in Wroclaw, Poland, having memorably had his long hair platted in dreadlocks especially for the final.He remains one of only seven British riders in the history of the sport to take its premier individual title, either in a one-off final or, as since 1994, decided by a Grand Prix series.
The former England captain led the Dukes to the inaugural Elite League Championship in 1997 and also lifted the Knock-out Cup in Bradford colours four times. Earlier in his career he also took the British and European Under-21 titles but missed the entire 1989 campaign after testing positive for the ‘recreational drug’ cannabis at the previous year’s British League Riders Championship.
Havelock, who lives in Teesside and has a wife, Jayne, and two daughters, has many times featured on as a pundit on Sky television’s speedway coverage and has also appeared on the BBC’s Question of Sport.
His passion for football also saw him help Middlesbrough win the ‘Premier League All-Stars’ – another Sky TV show – in 2007.
Havelock is widely thought to be in negotiation to take-up a managerial job with an Elite League club