BILLY Kerr made a huge impact on the Irish cycling scene, particularly during a five season period between 1978 and 1982 when he won all the major honours in Ireland and had some notable international performances too.
These successes included winning the Tour of the North in 1978 and 1979, the Sealink International in 1979, the Tour of Ulster in 1980 and 1983, the National all Ireland road race championship in 1982 and the Tour of Ireland also in 1982
He competed in two Commonwealth Games; Edmonton in 1978 and Brisbane in 1982 and also at the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980.
Billy’s successes didn’t come quickly and he had to apply much hard work and dedication before beginning to reap the rewards.
The first recording of Billy’s name had appeared in the Ballymena Road Club results book when, on April 19, 1961, as a 16-year-old he recorded 26 minutes 29 seconds for a 10-mile time trial on the Broughshane Road course.
Billy enjoyed just three seasons as a junior when he was forced to give up the sport because of a bad back.
He was able to return after receiving treatment from the then Glentoran physiotherapist Bobby McGregor who, as Billy puts it, sorted the problem out.
1973 was a watershed for Billy as he finished eighth in the road man’s BAR and was second in the second category road man’s BAR. This earned him a first category licence for 1974.
After numerous victories on the local circuits by 1978 Billy was a member of the Ireland team for the World Road Race Championships in Nurburgring in Germany.
1979 was the year that Billy had what he considered was his greatest success, victory in the Sealink International stage race, which came immediately after his second Tour of the North victory.
In 1980 Billy travelled to the Moscow Olympics where he represented Ireland and became the first ever cyclist from Northern Ireland to finish the Olympic Games road race. He was 41st from 115 starters.
In 1981 Billy won all six Northern Ireland and All Ireland time trial titles at 25, 50 and 100 miles.
Billy raced locally until he was 45 and thoroughly enjoyed his twilight years and won many more championship medals and domestic road races, including the Red Hand Trophy, the night after falling off at a gala event around the Ballymena Showgrounds oval.
His knowledge of racing and the ability to read the race and spot errors made by some of the top challengers was legendary.