Olympic heroes celebrate again

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London’s Olympic champions are celebrating again after being rewarded in the special New Year Honours list, with Bradley Wiggins and Ben Ainslie receiving knighthoods.
Wiggins followed his historic Tour de France triumph, the first by a British cyclist, by winning a fourth Olympic gold medal and first on the road while Ainslie became the most successful Olympic sailor of all time with his fourth successive gold.
Wiggins said: “It’s quite something really. I never ever imagined that I would ever 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.’’
Ainslie announced his Olympic retirement last month and will now concentrate on the America’s Cup, which Britain has never won. The 35-year-old said: “This is an incredible honour. When I set out Olympic sailing 20 years ago, I never would have dreamt this would happen.
“I couldn’t have achieved this honour without the support of all the people who have helped me throughout my career and so I hope they can also take some pride in this moment.’’ All the 2012 gold medallists end the year with an honour, although seven athletes who had previously received honours, including Sir Chris Hoy, were not recognised further this time.
Along with Ainslie and Wiggins, inspirational British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford is also knighted after he once again masterminded a stunning medal haul as well as leading Team Sky to a one-two in the Tour de France.
Brailsford is renowned as a team player and admitted to being not entirely comfortable with an individual honour such as this.
He said: “I can totally understand it with Chris (Hoy) when he won his three gold medals, or with Brad, because to have done what he has done is pretty amazing.
“But I guess it does feel a little bit uncomfortable given the hard work that everyone puts in that there is an individual recognition rather than a group recognition. That is a bit of a challenge – but it is a great honour nevertheless.” A fourth knighthood goes to David Tanner, the performance director for British Rowing, who also oversaw a record medal haul as Britain’s rowers won four golds and nine medals in all. Four Olympic stars are made CBEs, including the king and queen of British athletics, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, after they lit up the Olympic Stadium. London was the swansong for cyclist Victoria Pendleton, who added a second Olympic gold and is made a CBE after playing a trailblazing role for women sprinters on the track. Rower Katherine Grainger receives the same honour in the year she finally made it gold with Anna Watkins in the double sculls following three successive silvers.