FORMER Newport Wasps rider Phil Morris is gearing up for one of the biggest events in the speedway calendar, this year’s FIM Speedway GP of Great Britain in Cardiff, which takes place at the Principality Stadium today, September 2.

And while this year has brought career success, with his appointment as British Speedway’s Premiership CEO and continued role as FIM Speedway GP race director, it’s also come with tremendous lows with the sudden loss of his wife Katie at the age of just 46.

Here, Phil who lives in Cwmbran, talks about how the sport has helped him through some extremely tough times and why he’s determined to keep going in the way Katie would have wanted him to, both for himself and more importantly their two daughters, Ruby, 14, and Rosie, 10.

“It’s been an extremely difficult year, losing my wife so unexpectedly in October when we never thought she wouldn’t be coming back to us and facing a point where I really thought I’d give up on my career.

“I really did think seriously about it – the balance that would need to be made between my precious family and work life - but Speedway is also in my blood and has always been a huge part of who I am.

Free Press Series: Phil Morris, of British Speedway, with his daughters Ruby and RosiePhil Morris, of British Speedway, with his daughters Ruby and Rosie

“I suppose it’s been a bit of a salvation really, taking me into a completely different zone and helping me get through what myself and my children have had to cope with.

“We moved to Cwmbran from Wyllie a couple of years ago and I’m very lucky to have a great support network, including my mother-in-law Ella, brother-in-law Huw and his wife Rhiana as well as our good family friend, Sarah, who looks after my girls when I can’t be at home.

“We’re getting through everything together.

“I’m now both a mum and dad to the girls but they really do give me the strength to push on with things and I couldn’t be prouder of them both. Ruby is doing so well in netball, Rosie in football and they both love singing, dancing and musical theatre.

“They’re also flying academically and I know their mum would be just as proud as I am; she shaped them to become the fantastic young women they’re growing into.

Free Press Series: Phil Morris pictured in 2007.Phil Morris pictured in 2007.

“In my new role with Premiership Speedway, I haven’t really had a chance to slow down and I think that’s been a really helpful thing for me this year.

“And the minute I get back to the Principality Stadium, I always feel completely at home – the ‘professional’ me takes over, I’m so comfortable there and feel really privileged to be working alongside the top 16 riders in the world as they battle it out under that iconic roof.

“I’m excited to be part of the action again and showcase Speedway GP on one of European sport’s grandest stages – the calendar features 10 different venues across eight different countries and I’m not being biased but the Cardiff event really is one of the jewels in the sport’s crown.”

Fans heading to the stadium are set for some thrilling on-track action gearing up to watch the 16 riders compete over 23 heats, battling it out over four laps on 500cc bikes with absolutely no brakes.

Last year saw British speedway hero Dan Bewley raise the roof, becoming the first home rider to top the podium since Chris Harris won in 2007, and all eyes will be on him as he bids to secure a second win.

Free Press Series: Phil Morris pictured in 2007.Phil Morris pictured in 2007.

Adding to the excitement for the home fans, three-time world champion Tai Woffinden and Robert Lambert are the other two Brits vying for that top spot, along with fellow British rider Steve Worrall as wild card.

Phil said: “It’s been a rollercoaster year in so many ways; from losing my wife to then having to cope with my father John being extremely ill, spending ten days in a coma and not sure if he’d make it so soon afterwards. Thankfully, he did and he’s another rock in my life.

“I’m a positive person and always try to think the best thing to do is keep going if you can.

“I’ve got a big job to do in Cardiff this year – we faced some real issues with the track last year which we haven’t hidden behind; a lot of work has been done to put that right for this year and we’re looking forward to a great event, some fantastic racing and getting the fans back on board.

“I’m totally focussed, my daughters will be there cheering everyone on and we’re all doing our best to look forward for lots of reasons.”