CYCLE speedway star Zac Payne admits he is stunned to be a finalist at this year’s Oxfordshire Sports Awards.

The 20-year-old, from Chalgrove, became national champion in September and represented Great Britain in this year’s World Championships.

But to find himself shortlisted for the Sportsman of the Year award alongside Yorkshire and England Lions cricketer Jack Brooks and MotoGP star Bradley Smith still came as a big surprise.

Payne said: “When my dad showed me the email I was just in shock – I couldn’t believe it.

“I’m a bit nervous to be up against these professional athletes, because what I do is only on an amateur level.

“But I’m really excited to be included.”

The financial rewards may not be as great in cycle speedway as in professional cricket and motorsport, but Payne is no less dedicated to his chosen sport.

As well as his regular work in a furniture warehouse, Payne trains three evenings a week with his Horspath Hammers teammates, coaches the club’s younger age groups and puts in additional fitness work in preparation for race meetings most Sundays.

And after storming to the British Riders Championship title in September, Payne feels the benefits of the extra work are evident.

“Last year I wasn’t really training as hard as I could have done,” he said.

“At the start of this year I really got my head down and that was when I really started to achieve what I think I’d always been capable of.”

After this year’s tremendous success, Payne has already started to turn his attention to retaining the title next season and is also planning ahead to the 2017 World Championships in Australia.

But if it is his name being called out at the awards presentation at the Kassam Stadium on November 27, Payne admitted it would be an emotional moment.

“It would fulfil another big dream for me,” he said.

“In the British finals I was absolutely fine until my dad came running over and when I saw what it meant to him I did get a bit emotional.

“I don’t normally cry and if I win I hope I’ll be able to keep the tears in, but it would mean a lot to me and it would mean a lot to my dad as well.

“I know how much effort he puts in for me.

“It would just be another big achievement and something I’d never forget.”