Dame Kelly crowns a year of golden achievement

The remarkable year of Kelly Holmes, the double Olympic champion, was capped yesterday when she was made a dame in the New Year Honours List.

As Britain's finest female Olympian, Holmes, 34, was the first Briton for 84 years, and the third woman of any nationality, to achieve the Olympic middle-distance double by winning the 800m and 1500m races.

The accolade comes in a year of great achievement for her, including multi-million-pound endorsement deals and being named BBC's Sports Personality of the Year.

Tanni Grey-Thompson, regarded as Britain's greatest ever Paralympic athlete, also became a dame. She was born with spina bifida and has been confined to a wheelchair since the age of seven.

The Olympic oarsman, Matthew Pinsent, became a knight, after winning his fourth consecutive gold in the coxless fours at Athens. His fellow rowers, James Cracknell (OBE), Stephen Williams (MBE) and Ed Coode (MBE) were also honoured.

Pinsent, who announced his retirement earlier this month, said: "I am delighted that so many rowers are yet again amongst the recipients in the New Year Honours List, but, of course, personally I am overjoyed that I have been knighted."

He is expected to embark on a career in sports politics with his first job being as an ambassador for London's 2012 Olympic bid. His past team-mate, Steve Redgrave, was created a knight in 2001 after winning five gold medals in separate games.

The winners of Britain's first gold medal at Athens, dubbed "three blondes in a boat", were also recognised for their success. Shirley Robertson (OBE), Sarah Webb (MBE) and Sarah Ayton (MBE) triumphed in sailing's Yngling class.

Another Athens gold medallist, the yachtsman Ben Ainslie, was rewarded with the OBE. He won the Finn Class at Athens, having secured a gold in the Laser Class at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

The cyclist Bradley Wiggins, who won Britain's second gold medal in the four-kilometre individual pursuit, was rewarded with the OBE.

Another Olympic cyclist, Chris Hoy, who broke the world record in the 1,000-metre time trial and secured a gold, became an MBE.

Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish, Jason Gardener and Mark Lewis-Francis, Britain's gold medal-winning quartet in the 4 x 100m relay also all became MBEs, as did the equestrian eventer and Olympic medallist, Leslie Law.

Michael Brace, the chairman of the British Paralympic Association, was awarded the OBE for his services to disabled sport. The OBE was also conferred on Colin Montgomerie, one of the most successful golfers of his generation, who played a major role in Europe's Ryder Cup victory over the US.

Andy Farrell, the Great Britain and Wigan captain, was elevated to the OBE for services to rugby league, and in union Bleddyn Williams, the prince of centres in post-war years, became an MBE.

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