Australian rider Ballard receives honor

Ballard appointed a Member in the Order of Australia Off-road motorcycle racing stalwart Geoff Ballard is now an AM -- a Member in the Order of Australia. The 45-year-old was appointed an AM -- for service in a particular locality or field of...

Ballard appointed a Member in the Order of Australia

Off-road motorcycle racing stalwart Geoff Ballard is now an AM -- a Member in the Order of Australia. The 45-year-old was appointed an AM -- for service in a particular locality or field of activity to a particular group -- in the annual Australia Day Honours list on January 26, becoming the third Aussie motorcycle racer since 1975 to receive the award.

Although surprised by the honour, Ballard, the reigning Australian enduro champion in the Veterans' class, said he was privileged to receive it.

"It's a huge honour. I feel proud about it," Ballard said. "I first heard that I had been nominated in mid-December, and I thought 'That's interesting'.

"Then I got the official letter about three weeks ago, and I've been pretty excited ever since.

"I actually haven't received anything yet, because the official ceremony will be held at Government House in Sydney in a few months. That will definitely be something to look forward to."

"I've had plenty of recognition from within the industry over the years, but not much outside of it."

Ballard's association with the off-road scene began in 1977 when he began racing motocross on a German Maico machine. A year later, enduro became his discipline of choice, and he continued his alliance with Maico in Europe and America before the company went into liquidation in 1983.

Ballard's first big enduro win came in America in 1979, and since that time his catalogue of international results has been superb -- highlighted by12 gold and seven silver medals in the International Six Days' Enduro.

At a domestic level, Geoff has three American enduro titles in his dossier, and eight Australian championships. Nowadays, Geoff continues to compete at the highest level, as well as running a successful enduro race team under the Yamaha umbrella.

Ballard follows in the footsteps of world 500cc champions Wayne Gardner (1988) and Michael Doohan (1996) in being appointed an AM since 1975. Meanwhile, veteran speedway campaigner and administrator Neil Street, from Melbourne, received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2002.

-ma-

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