They reckon you’re no good? Prove them wrong. They reckon you’re too slow? Prove them wrong. They reckon you’re too young? Prove them wrong. They reckon you’re unworthy of the company you are keeping? Prove them wrong. They reckon you’re the village idiot? Prove them wrong.
A textbook Townsville revhead roared to the chequered flag at the Dutch MotoGP, punched his speed machine in unbridled and unexpected triumph, chucked a stand-up wheelie at a couple of hundred clicks an hour, guzzled champagne from his boot on the podium and then shoved a few important facts in the faces of those who had mocked his expedited rise to the premium class.
Proving them wrong has a bit going for it and, when 21-year-old Jack Miller gave north Queensland its most prestigious sporting trophy since Johnathan Thurston slotted a field goal in last year’s rugby league grand final, Australia had its first MotoGP winner since Casey Stoner in 2012.
Miller had officially come a long way since he was the kid being chased off council land in Townsville because his PeeWee mini bike was making too much noise for the rangers’ liking. “I think this makes it clear that we do know how to ride a motorbike and I’m not an idiot,” Miller said in reference to his promotion with Honda from Moto3 to the elite MotoGP class last year.
“It gives Honda something back for taking such a big gamble on me. The amount of criticism they’ve got, and the amount of criticism I’ve got, saying he’s a moron or whatever, a big thank you to those guys. It’s an amazing feeling and I can’t really explain it at this point in time.
“A lot of people have badmouthed us and said that this project wouldn’t work. I just hope we’ve showed them wrong, and that I can ride, and that I’m not an idiot.”
Miller became the 12th Australian to win a MotoGP race, dominating Sunday’s chaotic, rain-savaged race with an approach that he described as “glory or the hospital”.
When the wild weather sent seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi skidding into the gravel, Miller swept past two-time world champion Marc Marquez and held on for the final eight laps.
Making the grade in the Europe-dominated world of motorsport is never easy for an Australian. The family sacrifices are immense: Miller moved to Europe with his mother as a 14 year old. Financial commitments are enormous: Miller’s parents, Sonya and Peter, spent all their savings in his early days before selling their boat and remortgaging their home to keep the dream alive. The physical dangers are confronting and real. Miller broke 27 bones before the age of 14. He has witnessed the deaths of umpteen riders who went for broke and lost.
Sonya Miller watched television coverage of the race. The family moved to a farm outside Townsville when Miller’s bike kept earning the wrath of the council rangers. “My hands were shaking, my heart was palpitating. I thought, ‘Just sit behind Marquez, that’ll be right, second’s great!” she told Fox Sports.
“Second’s great! And then he put the moves on him and I’m like, ‘Please, no, what are you doing!’
“It’s just what you dream of for your child, always, and then it comes true — I’m just in shock.
“Any time your son gets on a podium, you’re just absolutely beside yourself. I’ve always known he’s had this potential and now he’s just shown the world he can do it.”