Richardson dies after crash
Former Great Britain star and GP ace in tragic accident
Last Updated: May 14, 2012 9:01am
Lee Richardson: Died after accident in Poland on Sunday
British speedway rider Lee Richardson has died following a crash in Poland.
Richardson, 33, was competing for PGE Marma Rzeszow against Betard Sparta Wroclaw when he went into a safety fence.
Polish state broadcaster TVP showed images of his bike flipping and Richardson being thrown off onto the track, apparently after he had collided into a safety fence.
TVP said the Lakeside Hammers captain was taken to a hospital in Wroclaw with severe internal bleeding and other injuries, and that doctors operated but were unable to save him.
His Sky Sports Elite League club released a statement to confirm the tragic news.
BRITISH CAREER: (1995) Reading; (1996) Reading II, Poole; (1997) Reading, Peterborough, King's Lynn; (1998) Reading; (1999) Poole; (2000-03) Coventry; (2004) Peterborough; (2005-07) Swindon; (2008) Eastbourne; (2009-11) Lakeside.
MAJOR HONOURS: World Under-21 Champion: 1999; Elite League Riders' Champion: 2003.
CLUB HONOURS: League Championship winner: 1997 [Reading]; Knock-Out Cup winner: 1998 [Reading], 2008 [Eastbourne], 2009 [Lakeside]; Craven Shield winner: 2000 [Coventry]; Pairs Championship winner: 2005 [Swindon].
GRAND PRIX HIGHLIGHTS: Grand Final Champion: 2002.
"All at the club are devastated at the loss of a great captain, man and more than anything else a wonderful father and husband," the statement read.
"Our thoughts are with his family at this most sad of times and we know that all Hammers fans will share our total devastation at this tragic news."
Hammers co-promoter Jon Cook added: "I am numb and just can't take this in.
"Lee's loss to his family is beyond imagination and I can't see further than that at the moment."
As a result of the news Monday's meeting between Coventry and Lakeside had rightfully been postponed.
Coventry owner Mick Horton said: "We extend all our sympathies to Lee's family and friends, and also everyone associated with Lakeside at this awful time.
"I feel it's appropriate that Monday's meeting is postponed, and it's fully understandable that there are riders from Lakeside who would not be in the right frame of mind to race in these tragic circumstances."
Hastings-born racer Richardson made his speedway debut in 1995 with Reading Racers.
During a hugely successful domestic career he also rode for Poole Pirates, Peterborough Panthers, King's Lynn Stars, Coventry Bees, Swindon Robins Eastbourne Eagles and finally with Lakeside.
Individually, Richardson brilliantly took victory in the World Under-21 Championship at Vojens, Denmark on 7 August 1999.
He also rode in the Grand Prix series, he made three wildcard appearances (British GP 2000 and 2002; European GP 2002), prior to becoming a regular competitor in 2003. This after stunningly winning the World Championship Qualifying Round Grand Final at Pi³a, Poland on 25 August 2002, when scoring 14 points to finish ahead of Bohumil Brhel (12) and Piotr Protasiewicz (11).
Richardson was also a regular for Great Britain in the Speedway World Cup tournaments and he was his country's all-time highest scorer in the Speedway World Cup.
Richardson was married to Emma, and has three sons.
Many of Richardson's fellow riders took to Twitter to express their shock and disbelief, world champion Greg Hancock writing: "Unreal news I just heard! It doesn't seem real and another innocent one is gone. Our thoughts are with the whole Richardson Family. RIP Lee."
British international Lewis Bridger said: "RIP Rico. Top, top bloke in the sport; I looked up to you so much man. I'm in tears right now. I really don't want to believe this."
His former Speedway Grand Prix rival Scott Nicholls added: "I am speechless & cannot think of any words to say at this very, very sad time. My thoughts are with the Richardson family & friends. RIP."
Nicki Pedersen, who won the Czech Grand Prix at the weekend, said: "RIP Lee! you was a true gentleman always a lovely person to talk to and Work with. All my thoughts goes to Richardson family not fair at all."