Golden glory of Beijing lights up honours list
Wednesday 31 December 2008
Rarely, if ever, have British sports men and women dominated their discipline the way the country's cyclists did in Beijing this summer.
And now the New Year's Honours List pays tribute to a team that rode circles round the rest of the world.
Leading the way – as he did at the Olympics – is Sir Chris Hoy, but the achievements of last summer were about much more than the efforts of one man, and the string of awards reflect this.
David Brailsford, the performance director of the British cycling team, is made a CBE for services to sport. He said that Sir Chris "epitomises everything that a knight should be".
"Everyone in the sport will say the same thing. He's the real deal," Mr Brailsford said last night. "It's great for him, great for the sport and great for the team."
Sir Chris, who was the first British Olympian in a century to win three golds in a single Games, said the knighthood was an "amazing honour".
"It's incredible and I'm absolutely delighted. I still can't quite believe it to be honest. To be given a knighthood is an enormous honour and it means so much to me, and also to my family," he said.
"I was stunned when I first found out and the news is still sinking in. I'm not sure if I will ever get used to people calling me Sir Chris."
"The fact that I have been awarded [a knighthood] is really a sign of the team's success," he said. "I have been able to work with the best coaches and a great senior team. We think there's more to come.
"Cycling is still a minority sport in Britain," he added, "but it has been great to see the way the public has appreciated the tremendous things the team has achieved."
Bradley Wiggins, who became the first man in history to successfully defend the Olympic pursuit title, is made a CBE.
Fellow cyclists Nicole Cooke, Victoria Pendleton, Ed Clancy, Jamie Staff, Rebecca Romero, Jason Kenny, Geraint Thomas and Paul Manning are all appointed MBEs.
Other successful Olympians to make the list include Rebecca Adlington, the 19-year-old star of the pool. She will now carry the letters OBE after her name.
"There are so many amazing names on the list, it's something I'll treasure for the rest of my life," she said.
There was also an MBE for 400m gold medallist, Christine Ohuruogu. The 24-year-old won gold in Beijing after shrugging off controversy over her inclusion in the British team. She had just returned from a 12-month ban following missed drugs tests.
"I am delighted and honoured to receive this recognition. It is not just for me but for my family, my coaches and all the people who have helped me achieve the success," she said.
Olympic sailing gold medallist Ben Ainslie is made a CBE, while kayaker Tim Brabants is awarded an OBE. James DeGale, who won gold in the boxing ring, was appointed an MBE. The 22-year-old, who has turned professional and faces his first pro fight in February, said he owed his success to his parents.
Lewis Hamilton, who became the youngest-ever Formula One world champion in Brazil last month aged 23, was made an MBE. He said he felt "humbled" by the award. "It is the most amazing culmination to what has been quite a year for me."
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