Tony Rickardsson

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Tony Rickardsson, Edward Jancarz Memorial, Poland, 2005

Tony Rickardsson svenska (born on 17 August 1970 in Avesta, Dalarna County, Sweden) is a retired Swedish motorcycle speedway rider. He is widely acknowledged as being the most successful speedway rider of the current era, having won six Speedway World Championship titles in 15 attempts. He most recently rode for Masarna from Avesta in the Swedish Elitserien league, Unia Tarnów in the Polish Ekstraliga and for the Poole Pirates, King's Lynn Stars, Arena-Essex Hammers and Oxford Cheetahs in the British Elite League.

He has two daughters, Michelle (born in 1997) and Natalie (born in 2002) with his wife Anna.

Career summary[edit]

Promising talent[edit]

In 1989 he became Swedish team champion with the now defunct Stockholm U team. The next year, he won the Swedish Championship, a title he's won six times since, including three times in a row from 1997 to 1999. That year, he also won a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships in Lviv. In 1991, he made his debut at the World Championship in Göteborg, and surprised many by winning silver. This promising performance was followed up by two fourteenth-places at the next World Championship, before he won the last single-event World Championships in an extra play-off race against Dane Hans Nielsen and Australian Craig Boyce. In 1993 he won the Speedway World Pairs Championship with Per Jonsson and Henrik Gustafsson. He also won the 1994 World Team Championship.

World dominance[edit]

Despite being on or near the top of the tables in the new Speedway Grand Prix series, organised as six events where points were tallied at the end, Rickardsson failed to win a single individual Grand Prix event in the next three years, and only won a World Championship silver and a Swedish Championship in that time. However, from 1998 onwards, he was dominant. He won three of six events in 1998, including a home win in Linköping, and ended up beating fellow Swede Jimmy Nilsen by 12 points. Joining Hans Nielsen as the only 2 riders to have won word titles in both the single meeting and grand prix formats. This year, he also won the Elitserien with Valsarna of Hagfors, being the highest averaging rider that season, and he won the British Elite League with Ipswich, averaging the highest for them as well. 1999 was an almost equally stunning season, although it started badly when he got disqualified in the first race at Prague, finishing eleventh. After three races, he was third, 24 points behind Tomasz Gollob, who looked to be cruising to victory. However, Gollob ran into trouble in the fourth race at Coventry, being forced to retire after the introductory stages and finishing eighth, meaning that Rickardsson caught up 15 points in one race. With one event left at Vojens, Gollob still led by four points, but in a quarter-final heat where Ryan Sullivan had been excluded and he only had to finish in the top two to qualify for the semi-final, Gollob finished third, and the pressure was off Rickardsson - who would now win if he finished in the top six. This recovery gave him Swedish sport's arguably greatest award, Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal (lit.: The Achievement Medal), for the best achievement of the year.

21st century[edit]

Rickardsson continued to win titles throughout the new century, although Mark Loram won the 2000 World Championship despite not winning a single event. Rickardsson won one - at Wrocław, but was too inconsistent to win the overall title. However, he again won the Elitserien, this time with his local team Masarna from Avesta, as he and team-mate Leigh Adams were the two highest averaging riders in the entire league. In 2001 he was back on the World stage, winning the World title with a record 121 points from six Grand Prix events, only missing one final - the last, at home on Stockholms Stadion, which was really academic as only a thirteenth place could possibly have robbed him of the title. He managed to win at home in the next Grand Prix series in 2002,which gave him three individual wins as he won his fifth World Championship. In 2003, he finished third overall. Thirteenth place finishes in Gothenburg, Bydgoszcz and Vikingskipet at Hamar ruining his bid for the title, and a concussion kept him out of the Swedish team that won the World Cup at Vojens (though he was part of a qualifier race and hence stands with a World Cup medal - his only title that year). The following year he managed to win the Swedish Championship at Målilla, but consistency eluded him as Jason Crump pipped him to the World title by three points (although the lead was 17 points before the final race). He followed this up with another extremely strong season in 2005. With 6 First positions at Wrocław (1st Event), Krško (3rd), Millennium Stadium (4th), Idrætsparken (5th) in København, Praha (6th) and Lonigo (9th); a second in the Swedish event at Eskilstuna (2nd); third in the Scandinavian held in Målilla (7th) and a lowly 9th in the Polish Grand Prix held at Bydgoszcz (8th Event). Even with such a poor finish in Poland, however, he had already virtually sown up the Championship in the 7th Grand Prix in Målilla, ahead of Jason Crump. After the sixth event held in the Czech Republic, he was first in the points per event table of the Elitserien (the Swedish Domestic Elite League). Though Tony stated that he would give up racing after the 2006 season, he announced his early retirement from both World Championship and Domestic Speedway on 1 August 2006 at a press conference in Stockholm, in order to pursue his interest in racing cars instead.[1] Rickardsson was a contestant on the TV4 television show Let's Dance 2008 in which he finished 2nd.

Summary of Titles[edit]

World Final Appearances[edit]

Speedway Grand Prix results[edit]

Year Position Points Best Finish Notes
1995 2nd 88 2nd (twice) Worst finish was 6th
1996 4th 86 2nd
1997 4th 90 2nd Finished in top 8 in all rounds
1998 1st 111 Winner (three times) Won in Prague, Pocking and Linkoeping
1999 1st 111 Winner (twice) Won British and Danish GPs
2000 3rd 94 Winner Won in Wroclaw, Poland
2001 1st 121 Winner (twice) Won the first British GP in Cardiff and also in Vojens
2002 1st 181 Winner (three times) Won Norwegian, Swedish and Danish GPs
2003 3rd 127 Winner Won European GP
2004 2nd 155 Winner (twice) Won in Slovenia and Norway
2005 1st 196 Winner (six times) Won four GPs in succession
2006 14th 41 4th Retired from all speedway following 5 rounds of the series

Trivia[edit]

  • He was nominated for the most prestigious Swedish sports awards for many years before finally winning in 2006. For the last four years the Swedish comedian Robert Gustafsson often appeared as him, talking sarcastically about how the winners deserved the prize while he was annoyed about never winning.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rickardsson announces retirement". SpeedwayWorld.tv. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Sweden national handball team
Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal
1999
Succeeded by
Lars Frölander