Speedway star 'knew risks'
Speedway rider Lee Richardson would have known "perfectly well" the risks he faced competing in the sport before he was killed, a coroner said.
Richardson was killed in a horrific crash following a race in Poland.
Richardson, who was 33, suffered multiple injuries after careering into a wooden safety fence while competing for PGE Marma Rzeszow against Betard Sparta Wroclaw on May 13 last year.
An inquest in Hastings, East Sussex, heard that the Great Britain star's front wheel touched the rear wheel of another rider as he prepared to overtake him on the inside.
The impact, on the first bend of the third heat at the Olympic Stadium in Wroclaw, sent Richardson at "full force" into the 4ft (1.25-metre) barrier, mechanic Dariusz Lapa said in a statement.
Lakeside Hammers captain Richardson was stretchered off the track while still conscious and driven by ambulance to the local accident and emergency department.
But, the inquest heard, after being transferred to general surgery he suffered a cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at just after 8.30pm.
Recording a verdict that he died following a motorcycle accident, East Sussex coroner Alan Craze said father-of-three Richardson, who lived in St Leonards-on-Sea, would have been well aware of the dangers involved in his sport.
Mr Craze said: "At the end of the day, you have got to recognise that brave and courageous people like him who want to take part in sport which carries with them a considerable degree of danger know perfectly well that there is a chance that something like this can happen."
He added: "They practice like anything and Lee Richardson was an extremely experienced rider, an international speedway rider. I haven't got any evidence that equipment played a part at all in causing this accident.
"I can't look at it and say rider error ... and I wouldn't want to.
"What has happened is someone has participated in a dangerous sport voluntarily knowing the dangers of it and has become one of the very very very few who has become injured and, in this case, fatally injured."
Medics battled for 60 minutes to revive Richardson after he suffered a cardiac arrest but their efforts were to prove in vain.
His cause of death was recorded as acute cardio-respiratory failure due to multiple organ injury due to a motorcycle accident.
In his statement, Mr Lapa, Richardson's mechanic since 2006, said his bike was "100% functional" and that the engine was warmed up as usual before the race to stop it seizing.
As the race got under way, Richardson found himself in last place and as he turned left "in an arc" his front wheel momentarily touched the rear wheel of fellow rider Tomasz Jedrzejak.
The race was halted while doctors rushed to treat Richardson after he careered into the safety barrier.
A mechanical report failed to identify anything that would have led to the accident, with the motorbike described as being "technically sound".
Mr Craze said: "This is a wholly tragic accident whereby Lee Richardson was riding a purpose-built speedway machine in a race where he accidentally touched the rear wheel of the vehicle in front."
Outside Hastings Magistrates' Court, Richardson's mother Julie, who attended the inquest with the rider's wife, Emma, said she could never bear to watch him compete.
She said: "It was something he always wanted to do ever since he was a young boy. He fulfilled his dream. He lived the dream.
"It's so sad that his career ended the way it did. He was at the top of his game. Emma is doing okay.
"There are three children so that keeps us going. We have good days and bad days.
"It's still very early at the moment. We're just going to carry on.
"I don't think speedway riders think something could happen otherwise they wouldn't get on a bike and do it.
"I never watched him and that's probably through fear, being his mum. I'm very satisfied with what I've heard.
"He didn't stand a chance. We knew that it was serious when we got the phone call that Sunday.
"With the injuries he sustained, I don't think he would have ever really have survived that."
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