Wiggins, Ainslie knighted by Queen Elizabeth II
LONDON—Cyclist Bradley Wiggins and sailor Ben Ainslie were honored with knighthoods by Queen Elizabeth II in her New Year list after their gold medal-winning performances at the London Olympics.
Wiggins’ gold in the time trial came 11 days after he became the first Briton to win the Tour de France — cycling’s premier event — while Ainslie’s fourth successive gold made him the most successful Olympic sailor of all time.
“I never imagined that I would ever become a knight so it’s an incredible honor but there’s a slight element of disbelief, and it will take a while to sink in,” said Wiggins, who was also voted Britain’s sports personality of the year in an annual televised BBC gala this month.
The pair headed a special, Olympic-heavy honors list that contains all of Britain’s gold-medalists as well as coaches and top officials.
Sebastian Coe, who masterminded the smooth running of the games as chairman of the London organizing committee, was awarded a Companion of Honour — a title given to no more than 65 people at one time.
Athletes Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah were both made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, while tennis player Andy Murray was one of four sports stars to be made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Of Britain’s Paralympians, cyclist Sarah Storey was made a dame — the female equivalent of a knight. Knighthoods also went to Paul Deighton (chief executive of LOCOG), Keith Mills (deputy chairman of LOCOG) and both David Tanner and Dave Brailsford, the performance directors of Britain’s successful rowing and cycling teams.
Away from Olympic athletes and administrators, former England cricketers Mark Ramprakash and Robert Croft were made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, as was former Arsenal assistant manager Pat Rice, who retired from his position at the end of last season.