Britain's Olympic heroes have been rewarded for their success with a record number of gongs in the New Year honours list.The athletes, coaches and organisers who brought delight to the nation this summer dominate the list like no other group before them.A staggering 127 awards have been handed out to those involved – more than 10 per cent of the total. The figure is unprecedented in the 122-year history of the list.Among the 78 athletes and coaches honoured were cyclist Bradley Wiggins and sailor Ben Ainslie, who both received knighthoods.Sir Bradley, as he will be known, made sporting history this year by becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France, and followed the feat by scooping an Olympic gold, as well as being crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
He heads a sparkling list of sporting heroes, including Paralympic cyclist Sarah Storey, who was made a dame, and Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Mo Farah and David Weir, who all received CBEs.Wiggins, affectionately known as Wiggo, said: ‘It’s quite something really. I never 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. There was never any doubt whether I’d accept it or not, it was more a case that I never saw myself as a Sir, and I probably never will.’ The honours crown a year of excellence in British sport – so much so that a special honours list was added to recognise the 65 medals, 29 of them gold, won at this year’s Olympic Games, as well as the 120 medals – including 34 golds – won at the Paralympic Games.There was also recognition for those behind the Games. Lord Coe, who headed London’s bid team, becomes a Companion of Honour, while Jean Tomlin, who led the Games Maker programme for volunteers to help the event run smoothly, gets an OBE.
Knight of the road: Wiggins followed his Tour de France triumph with an Olympic gold and was also named BBC Sports Personality of the Year
But eyebrows were raised that Mo Farah received only a CBE for his historic double track triumph in the 5000m and 10000m. In 2005, Kelly Holmes was made a dame for winning both the 400m and 800m at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Heptathlete gold medallist and London 2012 poster girl Jessica Ennis will also have to be content with a CBE. Andy Murray, who won Olympic tennis gold before becoming Britain’s first men’s Grand Slam champion for 76 years, can perhaps count himself unlucky to receive just an OBE. It was also noted that while Sarah Storey was made a dame after her four golds at 2012, her Paralympic teammate, wheelchair athlete David Weir, who also got four golds, was made merely a CBE.There was no mention of Danny Boyle, creator of the epic Olympics opening ceremony, who reportedly turned down a knighthood, or Stephen Daldry, who staged the closing party.
King Cool: Bradley Wiggins, pictured right in Manchester on Thursday night, said: 'It’s quite something really. I never imagined that I would ever become a knight'
Champion: Ben Ainslie, who won four successive Olympic sailing golds, has received a knighthood in the list
There was also nothing for cyclist Chris Hoy, who with six gold medals became Britain’s most successful ever Olympian during the Games, because he had already been knighted after his heroics at the previous Olympics in Beijing.In 2008, when Britain came fourth in the Olympics’ medal table at Beijing, 54 honours were awarded in the New Year honours list.Storey, 35, who now has 11 Paralympic gold medals in total and is pregnant with her first child, said: ‘I can’t believe the number of times we’ve said this year, “Oh, can 2012 possibly get any better?” We feel so fortunate that 2012 will always stand out as being the most incredible year.‘2012 has been quite amazing. I am still pinching myself, literally.’
Supreme: Sarah Storey is the UK's most successful ever Paralympian and is to be made a dame
Nation's favourite: Jessica Ennis, who was the face of the Olympics for home fans, received CBEs after her heptathlon triumph in London
Besides Wiggins and Ainslie, the most decorated sailor in Olympic history with four gold medals at four consecutive Games, knighthoods also go to Dave Brailsford and David Tanner, performance directors at British Cycling and British Rowing.Ainslie said: ‘This is an incredible honour. When I set out Olympic sailing 20 years ago, I never would have dreamt this would happen.’ CBEs also went to rower Katherine Grainger and cyclist Victoria Pendleton.
Inspiring: Jessica Ennis was the London 2012 poster girl and finished closely behind Bradley Wiggins in the running to be BBC Sports Personality of the Year
OBEs go to equestrians Sophie Christiansen and Charlotte Dujardin, Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds and cycling couple Laura Trott and Jason Kenny.Among those to get MBEs are boxer Nicola Adams; canoeist Timothy Baillie; equestrians Laura Bechtolsheimer and Carl Hester; rowers Katherine Copeland and Helen Glover; wheelchair racer ‘Hurricane’ Hannah Cockcroft; and Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig.Triathlon gold medallist Alistair Brownlee gets an MBE but brother Jonathan, who took bronze, misses out, while the MBE also goes to Welsh taekwondo gold medallist Jade Jones, Paralympic blade runner Jonnie Peacock, long jump hero Greg Rutherford and silver medal gymnast turned Strictly Come Dancing star Louis Smith.‘To receive this honour is out of this world and something I never would have dreamt of as I grew up in the sport of gymnastics,’ said Smith, 23.‘This year has been like no other for so many reasons.‘For me it’s obviously one I’ll never forget and I wasn’t sure it could get any better, but to be awarded an MBE is the icing on the cake and without a doubt the proudest moment of my life.‘I just hope this acts as even more inspiration for future generations within sport in this country, further continuing the Olympic legacy.’ Swimmer Simmonds, 18, who won two more golds at London 2012 making her a four-time Paralympic champion, said: ‘It’s been a great honour to be included in the list which caps an amazing year for me personally and for British sport.’ The honours also recognise those who contributed to London 2012 in a ‘non-sporting capacity’, with 49 ‘back-room’ staff from Paul Deighton, who was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, down to a MBE for volunteer Muhammed Khan.Away from sport, the Companion of Honour goes to Professor Peter Higgs, namesake of the Higgs boson or so-called ‘God particle’, which was finally proved to exist in July, 48 years after he first proposed it.
Lady in red: Jessica Ennis attends the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in London
No Sir Mo: Mo Farah's gold medal-winning triumphs provided fans with two of the London Olympics greatest moments
Recognised with an MBE in the Diplomatic and Overseas list was also Captain Raymond ‘Jerry’ Roberts, 92, one of the four founder members of Bletchley Park’s Testery section, tasked with breaking the German top-level code during the Second World War.An MBE also goes to Penelope Clough, 53, who set up the Justice For Jane Campaign with husband John after her daughter was murdered by her ex-partner in 2010 while he was on bail.Sport makes up about 10 per cent of this year’s awards, education 10 per cent, health 7 per cent, and industry and the economy make up 12 per cent.A Cabinet Office spokesman said an unprecedented number of people from the sporting world had received honours.He said: ‘As we’ve seen with the special list for Olympians and Paralympians, there is a desire to continue to expand the honours system and make sure we’re extending the reach.’
Lightning: Mo Farah missed out on a knighthood but has been awarded a CBE
Recognition: Cyclist Victoria Pendleton, who appeared on this year's Strictly Come Dancing, has been awarded a CBE
Northern star: Tennis champion Andy Murray enjoyed his most successful ever year as a tennis player winning both Olympic gold and the U.S. Open
Golden girl: Swimmer Ellie Simmonds has been awarded an OBE, making the list despite being only 18-years-old