Bradley Wiggins, Dave Brailsford and Sarah Storey are reportedly set to lead the list of people from the world of sport recognised in the forthcoming New Year’s Honours List. Wiggins and Brailsford are in line for knighthoods, reports Telegraph.co.uk, while Storey, who is also expecting a baby, is in line to celebrate a landmark year for her and husband Barney by being named a Dame.
This year’s London Olympic and Paralympic Games mean that sporting figures will be more prominent on the list than has been the case in recent years, with only one person associated with sport usually named a knight or dame on each list, according to a quota system.
Run a bank or scale the career ladder in the civil service and you’re guaranteed a gong, it seems, but sportsmen and women, even world champions, really have to go above and beyond the call of duty these days.
That quota system, set by the Cabinet Office, has been thrown out of the window this year, however, with the Telgraph reporting that sailor Ben Ainslie and wheelchair athlete David Weir will also receive knighthoods.
It is rare enough for active sportspeople to be awarded such an accolade, and for four of them to be recognised in such a way underlines just what a unique year 2012 has been in the history of British sport.
Even lower tiers of honours, such as OBEs and MBEs, will be awarded to athletes in unprecedented numbers.
Not everyone associated with the Olympic Games who has been nominated for a knighthood has accepted, however – Danny Boyle, director of a spectacular opening ceremony that was in parts widely viewed as a thinly veiled attack on government policy on areas such as the NHS, is reported to have turned one down.
Besides his London 2012 time trial gold medal – the fourth Olympic gold medal of his career – Wiggins’ Tour de France win has been hailed as the greatest performance ever by a British sportsperson.
He has previously said that while personally he would be reluctant to accept a knighthood, he would put his own feelings aside and do so in memory of his late grandfather.
Brailsford, in his role as team principal at Sky, helped engineer that success, and has been mastermind of the dominant performance of Team GB’s cyclists in the last two Olympic Games.
On Sunday evening, he was named Coach of the Year for the second time at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, where Wiggins took the individual title.
Storey, meanwhile, this summer clinched four Paralympic Games gold medals in London, taking her career total to 11 – five of those won in the swimming pool starting at Barcelona in 1992, the sport she pursued before switching to cycling ahead of Beijing four years ago.
While the decisions over the honours will have already been made,The Sun has joined calls for Wiggins to be knighted, saying: “If you don’t feel Her Majesty’s sword on your shoulders for being the first Brit to win the Tour de France and then claiming Olympic gold, a unique achievement in cycling, you might as well cut your own head off.”
Should Wiggins indeed get knighted, it’s likely to lead to a bit of confusion within the ranks of the foreign press unfamiliar with the intricacies of the British honours system about how exactly he should be addressed – Sir Bradley, Sir Brad, Sir Wiggins, or something else?
In June last year, at a pre-Tour de France press conference in London’s Soho, a Norwegian journalist asked Mark Cavendish how he should be known after he had been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours.
“Sir Cav,” he joked, to the merriment of all but the journalist who had asked the question, who apparently took the reply at face value. Quickly, the then HTC-Highroad rider added, “No. Mark Cavendish MBE!"
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.