Even though he has not ridden a motorbike since February, Tom Toparis will receive one of the biggest accolades of his career later this year when he is inducted into the Goulburn Sporting Hall of Fame.
The 21-year-old was humbled to have been chosen, particularly considering how young his racing career is.
"It's a massive honour," Toparis said.
"I remember when it used to be at the Soldiers Club while I was growing up. I remember walking through there and seeing Troy Herfoss's helmet there and I think the Cunningham brothers are in there as well.
"To be part of a group like that is a big deal, so I'm super grateful."
The Goulburn resident was nominated for the Hall of Fame on the basis of his enormous success in recent years, the highlights of which were his back-to-back ASBK titles in 2019 and 2020.
However, he is currently in the midst of a long layoff from racing due to a corrective surgery he had on his right arm in March.
After a childhood accident in which he broke his humerus, Toparis's right arm grew to be more than seven centimetres shorter than his left. As he entered adulthood, this began to cause postural issues and pain while riding his motorbike.
Though the surgery itself was a success, Toparis has had to wait for the bone to grow five centimetres in recent months, and he is scheduled to have one more operation later this year to finish off the process.
All in all, he said, he hopes to be back on the bike by November, and back racing in Europe by 2022.
"I really want to go back to the British Championship next year and pick up from where I was in 2020," Toparis said.
"If I can go back to where I was last year and where I was supposed to be at the start of the season ... hopefully I can set up a path to have the rest of my career over there.
"I love racing in England and it's probably the place to be. Obviously I want to race in Australia when I'm home, but the real focus is getting back to England."
As one of the youngest adults to have achieved a place in the Sporting Hall of Fame, Toparis is determined to get back on the track and extend his list of career accomplishments.
"I'm only 21, so I'd like to think I've got plenty of time ahead to do a lot more in the sport," he said.
"It is super early in my career, so [to be in the Hall of Fame is] a bit of a surprise but it's also a big deal for me."
Toparis thanked the Goulburn Mulwaree Council for his place in the Hall of Fame.
The induction was originally scheduled to take place this Saturday, July 24, but the event was postponed last week due to concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
The council has not yet issued a new date for the event, but expects it to take place later this year.
Toparis is one of four inductees to the Sporting Hall of Fame this year, alongside Amy Kolosque, David Wright, and Claire Polosak.
Further profiles on the other recipients will be published in the weeks to come.
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