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Tributes paid to speedway rider after fatal crash

Lee Richardson died following a crash in Poland Photo: Lakeside Hammers

Tributes have been paid to the Speedway rider Lee Richardson who has died following a crash while racing in Poland.

Richardson, 33, was competing for PGE Marma Rzeszow against Betard Sparta Wroclaw when he crashed into a safety fence.

Tributes quickly poured in for Richardson, who was world Under-21 champion in 1999, with many riders taking to Twitter to express their shock and disbelief at the news.

The Lakeside Hammers captain was taken to a hospital in Wroclaw but died from his injuries

A statement on the Hammers' website read: "All at the club are devastated at the loss of a great captain, man and more than anything else a wonderful father and husband."Our thoughts are with his family at this most sad of times and we know that all Hammers fans will share our total devastation at this tragic news."

I am numb and just can't take this in. Lee's loss to his family is beyond imagination and I can't see further than that at the moment.

– Hammers co-promoter Jon Cook added

As a mark of respect the Lakeside Hammers Speedway team pulled out of a race meeting tonight cancelling its scheduled Elite League match with the Coventry Bees.Hammers owner Stuart Douglas said they felt it was the right thing to do.

It is important for our riders to get together sooner rather than later to collectively mourn the loss of our Skipper, but it won’t be on Monday.

Hastings-born Richardson, a regular on the Grand Prix circuit between 2002 and 2006, was a former World Under-21 champion and is Britain's all-time World Cup points scorer, collecting 240 points across 10 championships.

His final appearance in the Elite League - Britain's top speedway division - was on Friday, when he contributed an impressive 10-point haul to a 59-37 win over his former club Peterborough.

The 1997 Elite League Riders champion also featured for Coventry, King's Lynn, Poole, Swindon and Eastbourne during a 17-year career.

The British Speedway Great Britain has posted a page devoted to the life and career of Lee Richardson.