Here's another, electrifying wild card for SEC 2018 - this time, we have rider from the world's top, born in Rio de Janeiro. That clue should make you already know who are we talking about - ladies and gentlemen, here is Antonio Lindbäck!
Born in Brazil, representing Sweden - history of 33 y.o. rider could be a perfect scenario for a Hollywood movie. Abandoned as a child near Sao Paulo, adopted by Swedish marriage, got back on his feet and right away, became a big name in the speedway world.
There's hard to find anyone who wouldn't recognize Antonio thanks to his lush dreadlocks. However, that era has ended, because he decide to cut them. Never though, it hasn't been a reason that people feel such a sympathy for him. First of all - he's been racing very effectively and efficiently.
In season 2009, Lindbäck represented Polonia Bydgoszcz, which back then were coming back to the Polish top league. With a little help, racing next to Tony Rickardsson, Swede jumped on a higher level. Two years later, he was back in Grand Prix series as a permanent participant. To this day, he's had 8 full season in this elite series and had 13 podium positions and at three venues - Motoarena in Toruń, Olympia Stadium in Terenzano and Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, he heard Swedish national anthem after celebrating victories.
His last big success came unexpectedly in 2015, because back then, it was hard to find anyone who would have seen Team Sweden as Speedway World Cup winners. Their aspirations were clear after the semi-final in Gniezno, where they made a big surprise after defeating Poles and Lindbäck was team's leader.
On the final's day, in Vojens, Sweden were the underdogs, but they ended this rivalry before Denmark, Poland and Australia. Gold medal was hanged on Lindbäck's, Jonsson's, Sundstroem's and Lindgren's neck.
Lindbäck is coming back to racing in Speedway Euro Championship after a one-year break. Swede was a permanent participant in 2015 and 2016.
First year of starts in the Individual European Championship brought bronze medal. One year later, everything had looked even better - before the final round in Rybnik, had been the classification's leader, but a tough and equal final round, next to a slightly worse Swede's performance, had thrown him out of the Euro Championship.
Here are the names of permanent participants in SEC 2018:
TOP 5 of SEC 2017:
1. Andzejs Lebedevs(Latvia)
2. Artem Laguta (Russia)
3. Vaclav Milik (Czech Republic)
4. Krzysztof Kasprzak (Poland)
5. Andreas Jonsson (Sweden)
TOP 5 of SEC Challenge in Terenzano:
6. Emil Sayfutdinov (Russia)
7. Mikkel Michelsen (Denmark)
8. Josef Franc (Czech Republic)
9. Andriej Kudriaszow (Russia)
10. Peter Kildemand (Denmark)
11. Leon Madsen (Denmark)
12. Jarosław Hampel (Poland)
13. Piotr Pawlicki (Poland)
14. Antonio Lindbäck (Sweden)