Britain’s triple Olympic gold winner earns royal recognition

LONDON: Call him knight rider — or simply Sir Chris Hoy. The British cyclist’s feat of three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics received royal recognition yesterday in the New Year honours list.

Hoy’s knighthood topped Queen Elizabeth II’s list that gave every British Olympic champion an honour following the country’s best medal haul in a century.

Britain brought 19 golds, 13 silvers and 15 bronze back from China in August.

But despite Manchester United winning the Champions League and English Premier League titles, not one footballer is on the list. Lewis Hamilton is, however, after becoming the youngest Formula One world champion at his second attempt.

The nation enjoyed most success in 2008 on two wheels, with the 32-year-old Hoy becoming the first Briton in 100 years to leave a single Olympics with three gold medals.

“My girlfriend and my family will have to call me ‘Sir’ from now — I’m going to enforce that,’’ he joked.

“I’m going to make my teammates call me it too, or maybe a little curtsy as well.’’

Hoy could be joined at Buckingham Palace by his mother Carol Hoy as the nurse was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her work on sleep-related illnesses.

“I don’t know how it’ll work,’’ Chris Hoy said.

“I wouldn’t want her day to be overshadowed by me, but it would be nice if we were both there together.’’

Bradley Wiggins, who won two of eight cycling golds, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) as was the team’s performance director, David Brailsford.

Swimmer Rebecca Adlington, a double winner at 19 and the first British female gold medalist in the pool for 48 years, was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Christine Ohuruogu, the only British athlete to win gold in a track-and-field event, was awarded an MBE after winning the 400m.

The 24-year-old Ohuruogu was banned for 12 months after missing three out-of-competition doping tests from October 2005 to July 2006, and had to win a court battle to overturn her lifetime ban by the British Olympic Association.

The “three blondes in a boat’’ bow out of racing as a trio with royal recognition after the Yngling class boat in which they won gold in China was removed from the sailing programme for the 2012 London Games. Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb, who repeated their 2004 Athens win in Beijing, are made OBEs and Pippa Wilson was given an MBE after her first Olympic gold.

OBEs were also awarded to Iain Percy, who won his second Olympic sailing gold and rower Steve Williams, another double champion.

Sailor Ben Ainslie, who has won three golds and a silver at the last four Olympics, was made a CBE.

Paralympic swimmer Eleanor Simmonds, who was just 13 when she won two events in Water Cube, became the youngest ever recipient of an MBE.

No one under 18 has ever won one before, the Cabinet Office said.

Olympic champions receiving MBEs were canoeist Tim Brabants; cyclists Nicole Cooke, Victoria Pendleton, Ed Clancy, Jamie Staff, Rebecca Romero, Jason Kenny, Geraint Thomas and Paul Manning; rowers Zac Purchase, Peter Reed, Andrew Triggs Hodge, Mark Hunter and Tom James; sailors Andrew Simpson and Paul Goodison, and middleweight boxing champion James Degale. — AP

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