Australian relatives of Bradley Wiggins’s estranged father Gary launch campaign to solve mystery of his violent death

 

Sydney

As Britain fêtes its newest sporting hero, Bradley Wiggins, the Tour de France champion’s Australian relatives are hoping the publicity may help solve the mystery of his father’s violent death.

Wiggins’s father, Gary, a former professional track cyclist, died of head injuries after being ejected from a party in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, in 2008. An inquest found he had been assaulted before he died, but returned an open verdict. The coroner stopped short of recommending that charges be laid against two men who were at the party.

Gary Wiggins – who had been living and competing in Europe – abandoned his English wife, Linda, when Bradley was two, returning to his native Australia. With the circumstances of his death still unclear, his sister, Glenda Hughes, is hoping the media coverage of Bradley’s Tour de France win may lead to police being given new information.

“I’m hoping that all this publicity might just stir something up in somebody,” Ms Hughes, who lives in Victoria, told Melbourne’s The Age today. “I’m hoping that what Bradley is doing will stir something in someone to come forward and tell us what happened.”

Bradley Wiggins has spoken openly about his father’s alcoholism. Asked shortly before the end of the Tour de France what Gary would have thought of his success, the triple Olympic gold medalist replied: “It’s difficult to say … It depends on whether he was sober.”

Born in Victoria, Gary Wiggins was a national cycling champion who won a number of international titles. After moving to Britain in 1976, he competed in Europe for nearly a decade, specialising in six-day races. He met and married Linda, his second wife, and Bradley was born in the Belgian city of Ghent in 1980. Two years later, Gary quit England and his family.

In January 2008, aged 55, he was found unconscious in the Hunter Valley town of Aberdeen, near the cemetery. At the inquest, one witness described how two men had dragged him out into the street the night before. Ms Hughes said he had been “beaten to a pulp”. Bradley, now 32, did not attend his funeral.

He had seen his father just once, during the lead-up to the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, visiting him in the town of Muswellbrook, where Gary was working as a house painter. It was not a happy reunion, Bradley recalled in his autobiography, In Pursuit of Glory. “Most of his [Gary’s] days would consist of buying a couple of crates of VBs [beer] … and steadily drinking himself into a stupor,” he wrote.

At his father’s behest, he took part in a local cycling competition, finishing second. “By the end of the race he was surrounded by a pile of tinnies [beer cans], hammered and … telling me what I had done wrong and how he would have won.”

Photographs of Wiggins riding down the Champs Elysees this week with his son, Ben, evoked a very different father-son relationship. Yet Wiggins has acknowledged Gary’s part in his success. “His achievements as a cyclist and almost legendary ‘hard-man’ status on the circuit undoubtedly helped propel me towards a competitive career in the sport,” he wrote. “Our shared DNA is at the heart of the story.”

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit