New Year Honours: Sport - Racing team leader wins a knighthood

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The Independent Online
FRANK WILLIAMS, the wheelchair-bound head of the Williams Formula One racing empire, could be forgiven for thinking the timing is out.

His knighthood in the New Year honours list comes after one of his least successful seasons since founding Williams Grand Prix Engineering Ltd in 1977. For once, Sir Frank, 58, failed to win a Grand Prix and finished only third in the constructors' championship during 1998.

But although it may have come late, it is a deserved reward for a determined man who has achieved more success in his sport than any other during the 1990s. His team has won nine constructors' titles, more than any other, and seven drivers' world championships - the last in 1997 by Jacques Villeneuve.

Sir Frank, a former driver, founded his first team at 22 but struggled to keep his dream alive. In the late 1970s he was forced to sell personal effects to pay staff, and it was only with his first Grand Prix win, in 1979, that things began to turn around. A road accident in Monte Carlo in 1986 left him confined to a wheelchair.

Both the outspoken Prince Naseem Hamed and Brendan Ingle, the trainer he parted company with this year after a bout of verbal fisticuffs, were appointed MBE.

Prince Naseem, the World Boxing Organisation's featherweight champion, was honoured for his record of 31 wins in 31 fights, including 28 knockouts, while Mr Ingle's award was for services to disadvantaged young people and to boxing.

Services above and beyond the call of duty could be the inscription on the insignia of the MBE of the England cricketer Angus Fraser. He took 54 Test wickets this year and helped to beat South Africa as England achieved their first five-Test series victory in 12 years.

Others to be appointed MBE include the former England football captain Stuart Pearce, who plays for Newcastle United; Trevor Brooking, the pundit and former England player; and Jimmy White, regarded as one of the most popular snooker players of his generation.