Former World speedway champion Michael Lee said he had now got to move on, and try to rebuild his life, after a jury cleared him of rape and sexual assault.
In an exclusive interview with the Journal, the 55-year-old director of the Mildenhall Fen Tigers Speedway team said: “I shed a tear when I won my world championship but this was a different kettle of fish for me.
“I just broke down as I could not control it anymore as I had kept it together up to that point.
“When I got out of court I just cried eyes like a baby such was the relief. There was so much riding on it. It was happiness and every other emotion all wrapped into one. I had faced 10 years in prison and, as an innocent man, that is not nice.
“To have no control over your life is not nice.
“Within three minutes of coming out of court, and the decision being made, my phone was going off with messages of support. I have not got round to replying to them all but I can’t thank people enough.
“I have had riders, supporters and journalists all in touch and I am grateful for all their support,” he said.
“I have now got to move on and build my life back up again and I know that is not going to happen overnight.
“It has been torture for the past 16 months but I am a fighter.
“Mentally I have got to get to back as this has just consumed so much of my time over the past six months. I can’t thank people enough for the all the support they have given me.”
Last week, following a 12-day trial, a jury at Ipswich Crown Court found Lee not guilty of raping and assaulting one woman and twice sexually assaulting another woman at a speedway end-of-season awards celebration at the Worlington Hall Hotel in November last year.
During the trial, Lee had told the jury that he believed the allegations, which he strongly denied, had been aimed at “destroying” him and were without foundation.
Lee, of Freckenham Road, Worlington, near Mildenhall, claimed that the alleged rape victim had been “emotionally disturbed.”
Crowned individual world speedway champion in 1980, Lee also rode for teams including King’s Lynn, Poole and Boston.