Health Watch: Gary Jess - Loving His Sport until the End

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), August 21, 2002 | Go to article overview

Health Watch: Gary Jess - Loving His Sport until the End


Byline: SANDRA CHAPMAN

Motor cyclist Gary Jess who died at last weekend's Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod had already suffered a catalogue of major injuries in previous accidents.

Exactly two years ago this month I went to interview him for Health Watch. At the time he was in great pain, recovering from a broken back, an accident that nearly cost him his life.

He had been visited in hospital by Gary Dynes who was killed five days later. And then came the death of his hero Joey Dunlop. His faith in the sport might have been dented but it was not diminished.

His mood was low, he was thin and gaunt at the time but he told me he was 'not ready yet to give up racing' and his agreement to the interview had a lot to do with his desire to see the sport - both short circuit and road racing - made safer.

Shortly after his accident in 2000, Kells rider Rory Hanlon had been killed at a short circuit event. Ironically Gary's wife Paula regarded road racing as safer. He said that day: "She doesn't like me riding on circuits as I always seem to get hurt at them.''

Gary made a good recovery from his injuries, probably due to his high level of fitness and, of course, he went back to racing.

But he wouldn't have returned to it if the doctors hadn't given him the say so. He was sensible enough to analyse that if they said no it was curtains for his racing career.

Philip McCallen was advised that another accident could leave him in a wheelchair or worse and he had no choice but to give it up. Now he's a successful commentator for the game.

Deciding to give up is the worst decision a competitive motor cyclist has to make. …

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