First came the dream-like highs of the Tour de France and the Olympics. Then, thanks to a run-in with a van last month while riding near his Lancashire home, a painful return to earth. Now, as if Bradley Wiggins had not had enough excitement in 2012, it is arise Sir Wiggo.
The London-born Mod and world-conquering cyclist described his knighthood as an "incredible honour" yesterday but hinted he may prefer to stick to "Mr Wiggins".
Sailor Ben Ainslie joins Sir Bradley in the New Year Honours list of Team GB knights, while Sarah Storey, the cyclist who is Britain's most decorated female Paralympian, follows Baroness Grey-Thompson in being appointed a Dame.
In a list of sporting honours extended to accommodate the heroics performed both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes during the London Olympics and Paralympics, gold medallists Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and David Weir are all appointed CBE.
More than 100 honours will be handed out to athletes and organisers, including five knighthoods and damehoods and 62 MBEs in recognition of the "exceptional" nature of 2012. Traditionally, the sporting honours quota is restricted to just one knighthood or damehood and 38 MBEs.
Sir Bradley, who won the fourth Olympic gold medal of his career barely a week after becoming the first Briton to triumph in the Tour de France, said: "I never ever imagined that I would become a knight so it's an incredible honour. But there's a slight element of disbelief and it will take a while to sink in."
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year said he had accepted the knighthood as much for his 12 years of competing as for the glories of 2012. He added: "There was never any doubt whether I'd accept it or not, it was more a case that I never saw myself as a 'Sir', and I probably never will."
Knighthoods are also given to David Brailsford and David Tanner, the performance directors for cycling and rowing, respectively, who helped Team GB to dominate those sports at the London Games. There are OBEs for tennis player Andy Murray, who won his first major at the US Open and singles gold at the Olympics, and for Paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds, as well as MBEs for boxer Nicola Adams and sprinter Jonnie Peacock.
Recognition also goes to the organisers and backroom staff who to helped to make the Olympics and Paralympics a national morale-booster. Lord Coe, chairman of the organising committee Locog, is a created Companion of Honour, the first sporting figure to be so recognised. Paul Deighton, the chief executive of Locog, receives a knighthood.
Honours are also awarded to dozens of volunteers and officials, including Jean Tomlin, who led the Games Makers volunteer programme, and Suzanne Jacob, the official in charge of the Home Office's efforts to thwart everything from terrorist threats to unauthorised traders.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said a record 123 sportspeople were honoured, compared with last year's 44.
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