Bradley Wiggins and Dave Brailsford have been awarded knighthoods in the New Years Honours List, published today, while Sarah Storey becomes a Dame, the female equivalent of a knight. The trio are among five people connected with London 2012 to be so honoured, the others being sailor Ben Ainslie and David Tanner, performance director of British Rowing.
The fact that five such honours have been awarded this year - a quota system usually means that just one person from the world of sport is made a knight or a dame - reflects not only the impact on the national consciousness this year of Great Britain's success at London 2012, but also the fact that awards at this level aren't made to reflect a solitary performance, but rather reflect years of dedication.
Wiggins' time trial victory in London, which came ten days after he became the first British rider to win the Tour de France, is the fourth Olympic gold medal of his career, the first coming in Athens eight years ago.
In a decade as performance director at British Cycling, Brailsford has overseen Team GB's dominance on the track at the last two Olympics, as well as being the architect of Team Sky's success.
Storey, who won four gold medals in London, now has 11 career Paralympic golds, the first five in the swimming pool and dating back to Barcelona in 1992. Being named as a Dame ushers in what was already set to be a momentous year for her and husband Barney - the couple are expecting a baby.
Victoria Pendleton, winner of the keirin in London and already an MBE, is awarded a CBE, while British Cycling's golden couple, Jason Kenny and Laura Trott, who won two gold medals apiece in London this summer and subsequently revealed they were dating, are both made OBEs.
Kenny, who was part of the gold medal winning team sprint trio along with Sir Chris Hoy and Philip Hindes, and who also won the individual sprint, was already an MBE, awarded, like Pendleton's, after the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
MBEs go to Paralympic champions Mark Colbourne and Neil Fachie, tandem pilot Craig MacLean and Olympic gold medal winners Hindes, Stephen Burke, Peter Kennaugh, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell.
Other cycling gold medal winners this summer such as Geraint Thomas and Ed Clancy, who rode in the team pursuit with Kennaugh and Burke, had already been awarded MBEs after winning their first gold medals four years ago.
Speaking of his knighthood, Brailsford told the Team Sky website: "On the one hand you feel proud and honoured but on the other it feels quite humbling. I think more than anything else it’s recognition for everything that has happened in cycling, not just for this year, but over a period of time and the development of the sport. I’m the lucky one that gets recognised.
“I’m just an orchestra conductor and I am only ever going to be as good as the people playing the instruments by making sure they are all coordinated. I am very reliant on being able to recruit and develop the best people in given areas and I think I have been very lucky in having some absolutely brilliant people who have worked with me.
"But more than anything it’s bike riders that win races and gold medals and I have been incredibly lucky to have such a talented bunch of riders come through the system in the last few years and I think they are the ones that deserve the credit.
“After a year like this my ambitions are sky high and I’m still very hungry. I get up in the morning and think about how we can better and I’ve got a group of people around me who think all the time about continuous improvement. That is quite contagious and once that ball starts rolling it’s very difficult to stop it.”
Wiggins, who said earlier this year that he would be reluctant to accept a knighthood but would do so because his grandmother told him that his late grandfather would have wanted him to do so, added: “It’s an incredible honour and an incredible thing to have.
“[Sir] is not something I would like to use in daily life because it would still sit uneasy with me. The only thing I have insisted on is that my wife and children call me Sir at home but other than that everyone is free to call me Bradley!
“The goal this year was to win the Tour de France and the Olympic Games and we did that. I think it’s everything else that has happened since then, which have not been the biggest achievements but the most rewarding - things like Sports Personality and the Knighthood - because those things are out of your hands. So to be awarded those is humbling.”
Storey, whose 11 Paralympic gold medals puts her level with Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson as Great Britain's most successful female Paralympian - although the swimmer turned cyclist has 22 medals in total against the former wheelchair athlete's 16 - said: “Wow, I am speechless but incredibly honoured and extremely proud to be able to accept this.
“I never expected any additional awards after my sporting success, I love competing for my country and that is a huge honour in itself.
“Now to be a Dame is beyond anything I could have ever imagined and I cannot thank my family, friends, coaches and support staff over all the years enough for their devotion in helping me to follow the path of becoming the best athlete I can possibly be.”
British Cycling president Brian Cookson commented: “This is a fitting end to a phenomenal year for us. Dave, Bradley and Sarah’s outstanding achievements this year have made us all proud to be British and have shone a spotlight on our sport, inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to take up cycling.
“Cycling is the sport that has redefined our national sporting identity this year and it is fantastic to see this recognised in the New Year Honours list. On behalf of all their colleagues and fellow members of British Cycling, I warmly congratulate all three on achieving this highest of all national honours.”
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.