The 2011 season has come to an end and the time has come for us to reward all our Champions in a ceremony that will hopefully do justice to their efforts and achievements, and be seen through television by many TV viewers throughout the world. It is exactly this type of exposure that has helped redefine all our disciplines over more recent years with all forms of motorcycle sport enjoying increased coverage both on TV and in the media of the highest quality. So today we can be both pleased and proud to see some motorcycle sports ranking alongside some of the most major sports in the World.
We welcome the people who are the most important in the sport and acknowledge the status that they have earned through their achievements: our riders are the real heroes of our sport.
Every sport started with athletes trying to push the limits, and these sportsmen and women – in each and every sport - who have achieved success at the top-level deserve our utmost thanks and respect, and must be rewarded for their incredible and fantastic performances, not to mention their dedication.
It is fair to say no world title is ever won easily, not even for athletes who dominate their discipline as some riders have done recently. No title is won before it is actually won, but the preparation that all champions undertake is the often the first and most important step of this process. Then for those champions who successfully defend their title, they will always acknowledge that the next title is no easier to win and can often be more difficult and complicated.
All our sports have evolved and one very important step has been the wider inclusion and recognition of the women who now participate in a number of disciplines, especially in the off road sector including Trial, Motocross and Rallies but also in Road Racing and World Record Attempts. So we would like to offer a very special welcome to our women riders.
Finally without the long and rich history of motorcycle sport, we would not stand as high as we do today, so it with this mind we welcome our heroes from the past who through their achievements over the years are now the legends with whom we can associate so much of this success.
Without any doubt, this second edition of the FIM Gala Ceremony, held at this great place, the Casino Estoril, will be a big success. My sincere greetings go to all the people involved in the organisation of this event, and, above all, to all the FIM World Champions, whose fantastic contribution to our sport has considerably helped spread the magic of the motorcycling sport all over the world.