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Tributes paid to trailblazing motocross rider Lionette Jones

Lionette Jones, Bermuda’s first female motocross rider, in action at the Coney Island racetrack (Photograph supplied)

Lionette Jones dared to go where no other female athlete had gone before and few have since, in Bermuda.

The late trailblazer rode her way into local sports history when she became the first Bermudian woman to compete in the male-dominated sport of motocross at the former Coney Island racetrack in the 1980s.

Jones was a late bloomer having begun competing in the sport in her early twenties in the 80cc class before progressing to the 125cc class, where she saw out the remainder of an historic yet brief career.

Sadly, the former athlete passed away last month at age 59 after a bout with illness.

In the wake of Jones’s death, former colleagues have paid homage to her pioneering exploits on the racetrack and remarkable legacy.

“Lionette was a very tough girl, she could take a bang,” Otis Ingham, the former multiple national champion, told The Royal Gazette. “She was very daring and willing to try anything.”

Jones raised eyebrows when she showed up on the motocross scene.

“When they said a girl was starting motocross, we were all excited because it is a very male-dominated sport,” Ingham added. “To see a girl actually come out and handle a big bike like that was really something to we guys. We were like, wow!

“She got a lot of respect and admiration for what she did, and will definitely be a miss.”

John Edness, another former multiple national champion, hailed Jones’s courage to do what no other woman athlete had done before.

“That took courage for her to compete in a male-dominated sport,” he said. “Lionette was a competitor. She was beating guys and wasn’t letting nobody go by. She put up a fight.

“She is a trailblazer and not too many women did it after that.”

Chris Shanks, another former multiple national champion, described Jones as a good rider who had a pleasant demeanour.

“We raced a bit together when we were down there in the pits,” he recalled.

“She wasn’t great at it, but rode very well.

“She was a nice girl. She was a lovely girl, very pleasant and came out and rode.

“She came out and rode with the men, and so I have to give her credit for that.

“It was a good start for her to come out. She probably could’ve opened some doors, but it didn’t really stick.

“She was in there for a few years and had fun doing it.”

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Published February 11, 2022 at 7:55 am (Updated February 11, 2022 at 7:55 am)

Tributes paid to trailblazing motocross rider Lionette Jones

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