Team GB chairman defends gold medal winner Bradley Wiggins getting 'blind drunk'


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The Independent Online

The chairman of the British Olympic Association has hit back at critics complaining about Bradley Wiggins getting 'blind drunk' after winning gold and becoming the nation's greatest Olympian.

Lord Moynihan said Wiggins deserved to finally let his hair down, adding: "He is really a focused guy. He is a success. I have got nothing but admiration and respect for what he did.

"A number of people have commented, wrongly I think, that he was not entitled to go out and enjoy himself yesterday. I am of the group who says he is absolutely thoroughly entitled to have a fantastic party and celebrate. Nobody deserves its more.

"He may have got a bit dehydrated - that vodka tonic might have had more of an effect than it might have done under normal circumstances."As calls grew for the hero cyclist to receive a knighthood, he summed up the mood of the country with the emotional message: “Well, what a day.”

The cyclist spent last night toasting his gold medal on the rooftop bar of his hotel, telling his Twitter followers: “Blind drunk at the minute and overwhelmed with all the messages. Thank you everyone, it’s been emotional. X.”

The knighthood campaign was launched today after the Kilburn-born star, 32, claimed Team GB’s second gold of the Games by winning the Olympic time trial just 10 days after he became the first Briton to win the Tour de France.

British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan said: “We will certainly be making representations.” MPs joined the growing calls for a knighthood, as did the staff at the 10-floor Grange St Paul’s Hotel where Wiggins is staying.

Drinks manager Prasad Withanage said: “Everyone is very happy he is here.”

London MP Emily Thornberry said: “He is a national hero, a fantastic role model. If anybody should be knighted, he should be.”

John Whittingdale, Tory chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, said: “His achievement is utterly extraordinary. He is particularly deserving of recognition.”

Shadow sports minister Clive Efford said: “He is the most decorated British Olympian ever. Of course, he should be recognised alongside people like Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Steve Redgrave.”

A jubilant Wiggins had said after his victory that he would have “a few” vodka tonics to celebrate. He was later pictured partying with friends near St Paul’s until 2am today, telling fans he planned on “getting wasted”.

The cyclist posed for pictures at the Sky Bar of the Grange Hotel in the City where he has been staying before posting images online.

Underneath a picture of himself with a drink in his hand and showing his trademark victory sign, he wrote: “Getting wasted at St Paul’s”.

Wiggins had earlier told how he now wants to “get back to normal” with his wife Catherine and children Ben, seven, and Isabella, five, following his gold medal win.

He said: “After the Olympics is done, my kids go back to school in September and I’ll take them back to school in the mornings, pick them up, go to Tesco and get a pint of milk because that’s normal life, that’s reality.

“I’m up there with Steve and Chris, which is brilliant. I never imagined that as a kid but in terms of medal tally it’s just a number. To be looked upon as inspiring or whatever, it’s brilliant. But as to what comes next, the minute I step out of the Olympic Games and try to get back into normal life I’m quite adamant that things aren’t going to change too much. I’m going to try and continue as things were.

“I lead a normal life, like most people. I’m not a celebrity, never will be one and don’t consider myself one. I despise that whole celebrity culture.”

Despite his plea for normality, experts suggest the win could be worth as much as £30 million over the next two years through sponsorship deals. Public relations guru Max Clifford said: “His story is a fairytale because it touches all of our lives. He is a modern-day hero.”

Government departments or members of the public can nominate people for a knighthood.

Nine Whitehall committees, including one on sport, then scrutinise these submissions before making recommendations to a main committee. It finalises a list which is then forwarded to the Prime Minister who sends it to the Queen for approval.

Andy Hunt, Team GB's chef de mission for the 2012 Olympics, said: "He is entitled to celebrate. What he did was extraordinary. I do not think there is a single person in the country who would not want to buy him a drink."

Mark Adams of the International Olympic Committee agreed that Wiggins deserved a celebration but noted: "Of course we would ask all athletes after their competition to clearly drink wisely - that would be my parental advice."