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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March, 2003, 06:30 GMT
Motorcycling legend Sheene dies

Former world motorcycling champion Barry Sheene has died after a long battle against cancer.

Former world motorcycling champion Barry Sheene
Sheene was diagnosed with cancer in July last year

The 52-year-old, who was awarded the MBE in 1978, had cancer of the throat and stomach.

He died in a hospital on Australia's Gold Coast on Monday.

Sheene won the World 500cc Motorcycle Championships twice in 1976 and 1977 but was equally famous for overcoming his numerous crashes on the track.

And like his contemporary James Hunt, the Formula One Grand Prix driver, he also attracted headlines for his playboy lifestyle.

At one stage in his career he had metal plates in both knees, 28 screws in his legs and a bolt in his left wrist.

Carl Fogarty, four-time World Superbike champion, said Sheene had been "an inspiration to millions".

Barry Sheene was not only one of the most brilliant motor racing cyclists who has ever lived, he was also a lovely man
Murray Walker

"He was the guy who made motorbike racing famous," Fogarty told BBC Radio Five Live.

"There were other world champions from Britain who achieved more on the track but he brought it to the public attention."

Former Formula One world champion Damon Hill said: "He was my very first hero and he was very important to me."

TV commentator and ex-motorcycle racer Murray Walker added: "Barry Sheene was not only one of the most brilliant motor racing cyclists who has ever lived, he was also a lovely man."

Sheene began racing motorbikes at the age of five and remains the last British racer to win a 500cc GP in 1981.

He won 19 in all and is also still the last British rider to have won the world title.

Sheene moved to the warmer climes of Australia in the early 1990s to ease the pain caused by arthritis from numerous broken bones suffered in crashes.

He worked as a motorsport television commentator Down Under, where he also had business interests.

Sheene was diagnosed with cancer in July last year just days after competing in a legends race during the British Grand Prix at Donington.

But he shunned chemotherapy treatment, opting to fight the disease with a natural diet regime and other therapies.

Sheene is survived by his wife Stephanie and two children, Freddie and Sidonie.

BBC Sport's Nick Harris
"Sheene brought Grand Prix racing into the homes of new fans"

Former team-mate Steve Parrish
"He was a fighter"

Pay tribute to Barry Sheene
10 Mar 03  |  Motorsport
A hero on and off the track
10 Mar 03  |  Motorbikes
Champions salute Sheene
10 Mar 03  |  Motorbikes

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