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New Year Honours for Olympians

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 29, 2012

  • Sailing Olympian Ben Ainslie who receives a knighthood in the New Year Honours list

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Westcountry sportsmen and women figure prominently among 78 Olympians and backroom staff today awarded New Year Honours.

Cornwall's four-times gold medal winning sailor Ben Ainslie is knighted while Devon horsewoman Mary King, Penzance teacher-turned rower Helen Glover and paralympic swimmer Jonathan Fox, from St Stephen near St Austell, are all made MBEs.

There are honours, too, for Peter Wilson, the Dorset clay pigeon shooting gold medallist, who is made an MBE and Helen Glover's rowing partner Heather Stanning, a soldier, who was born in Somerset, also made an MBE.

On the national stage Bradley Wiggins, the Mod from Kilburn who made sporting history by winning the Tour de France and an Olympic gold this year, is knighted.

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Sir Bradley heads a sparkling list of sporting heroes, including para-cyclist Sarah Storey, who is made a dame, and Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Mo Farah and David Weir, who all get CBEs.

Affectionately known as Wiggo, the first British winner of the Tour, also crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year said: "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.

The galaxy of sporting stars who achieved so much during London 2012 meant that a special honours list was added this year.

There was also recognition for the people who made the games such a success, from Lord Coe, who becomes a Companion of Honour (CH), to Jean Tomlin, who was in charge of the Games Maker programme and gets an OBE. Away from sport, the Companion of Honour also goes to Professor Peter Higgs, the 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.

The main list also includes a knighthood for illustrator Quentin Blake and CBEs for artist Tracey Emin, choreographer and former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips and singer/songwriter Kate Bush.

Actor Ewan McGregor and fashion designer Stella McCartney get OBEs, while former England cricketer Mark Ramprakash gets an MBE.

Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair is given a CBE in recognition of her service to women's issues and to charity in the UK and overseas.

A CBE also goes to UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox, as well as actor-turned-politician Michael Cashman MEP, best known for his role as Colin Russell in EastEnders – a participant in the first gay kiss in a British soap opera.

A total of 1,223 people were recommended to the Queen for an award, 1,068 at the level of MBE, OBE and BEM – the British Empire Medal, which was reintroduced after 20 years in 2012 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Women make up 47% of the total list, which includes 13 dames.

Awards for sport make up 10% of the total honours, with the special London 2012 and Paralympic Games list created to recognise the nation's sportsmen and women.

Sir Bradley's knighthood is undoubtedly the icing on the cake in a year which saw him win the Tour de France, take Olympic gold in London, then be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Dame Sarah is honoured for services to para-cycling after winning four gold medals at London 2012. With a Paralympic gold medal total of 11, Storey, who is expecting her first child, equals Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Dave Roberts as one of the country's most successful Paralympians.

Storey, 35, said: "Wow, I am speechless but incredibly honoured and extremely proud to be able to accept the DBE.

"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."

As well as the knighthood for Cornish sailor Ben Ainslie – whose success at the 2012 Games made him the most decorated sailor in Olympic history with four gold medals at four consecutive Games – there were ones for Dave Brailsford and David Tanner, performance directors at British Cycling and British Rowing.

Both men came in for high praise after the success of their teams at the Games. Cycling performance director Brailsford played a significant role in Britain's rise to the top of world cycling, and he is also the team principal of Team Sky, of which Wiggins is a member.

As performance director of British rowing, Mr Tanner was behind Team GB's new Olympic record of nine medals, four of them gold.

CBEs go to some of Britain's biggest sporting household names – rower Katherine Grainger, heptathlete and London 2012 poster girl Jess Ennis, cyclist Victoria Pendleton, and wheelchair athlete David Weir. Joining their ranks with his first honour is athlete Mo Farah, who captured the nation's hearts with his double gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m.

OBEs go to equestrian's Sophie Christiansen, Great Britain's first triple gold medal winner of Paralympics 2012, as well as fellow rider Charlotte Dujardin, tennis hero Andy Murray, paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds and cycling couple Laura Trott and Jason Kenny.

Among those outside the Westcountry to get MBEs in the 2013 sporting list are boxer Nicola Adams; canoeist Timothy Baillie; equestrians Laura Bechtolsheimer and Carl Hester; rower Katherine Copeland; wheelchair racer "Hurricane" Hannah Cockcroft; and paralympic swimmer Josef Craig.

Triathlete Alistair Brownlee, who took gold in the summer, also gets an MBE but brother Jonathan, who walked away with a bronze, misses out on an honour in this round.

The honours do not only recognise Olympians, Paralympians and their coaches, but also those who contributed to London 2012 in a "non-sporting capacity".

One notable name missing from the roll is Danny Boyle, who created the epic Olympic opening ceremony. The Trainspotting director is believed to have turned down an honour.

A knighthood also goes to Kenneth Grange, of Okehampton, one of the UK's leading industrial designers, responsible for Britain's first parking meter, the Intercity 125 high speed train, the Kodak Instamatic camera, the rural post box and the London taxi.

The British Empire Medal recognises people who played their part in the "Big Society", This year 72% of the honours go to people involved in charitable or voluntary work.

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