MotoGP rider Hiroshi Aoyama attended the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology earlier this week to collect a Sporting Merit Award in recognition of his 2009 250cc World Championship title.
The 29-year old became only the second World Championship rider to receive the award after Daijiro Kato collected the prize in 2001, and only the third motorcyclist to obtain the honor, the last being trial biker Takahisa Fujinami in 2004.
Alberto Puig was also recognized for his role in Aoyama’s career as the rider’s manager, coach and mentor, while World Champions from other sports such as gymnastics, judo and figure skating were also honored by the Ministry.
Aoyama MotoGP Fast Facts:
- Aoyama is the third Japanese rider to win the 250cc world title joining Tetsuya Harada in 1993 and Daijiro Kato in 2001.
- He is the first Honda rider to win a world championship in any class since Nicky Hayden took the MotoGP title in 2006.
- He is the first Japanese rider to win a world title in any class since Daijiro Kato took the 250cc championship in 2001.
- Aoyama finished in the top eight at every race in 2009.
- He has not missed starting a Grand Prix since making his debut as a full-time GP rider at the first race of 2004.
- At the San Marino Grand Prix this year Aoyama became the first Japanese rider to pass the milestone of 100 Grand Prix starts in the 250cc class.