Bradley Wiggins Knighted In New Year Honours

Ian Woods, Senior News Correspondent

Britain's gold rush during the London Olympic and Paralympic Games has led to 78 athletes and coaches being named in the New Year Honours List.

Among the top honours are knighthoods for cyclist Bradley Wiggins and yachtsman Ben Ainslie, while Paralympic cyclist Sarah Storey becomes a Dame.

Dave Brailsford and David Tanner, the Performance Directors who have ensured that Britain now leads the world in cycling and rowing are also rewarded with knighthoods.

Every British athlete who won a gold medal in the Olympics or Paralympics is included in the list unless they have already been honoured in the past.

So Sir Chris Hoy, who was knighted after the Beijing Games, is omitted from the list despite adding two more gold medals to his career tally of six.

Somali-born middle-distance runner Mo Farah becomes a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his stunning double gold medal performances in the 5,000m and 10,000m.

He joins four other competitors who become CBEs having previously collected the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) - rower Katherine Grainger, cyclist Victoria Pendleton, heptathlete Jessica Ennis and wheelchair athlete David Weir.

Sir Bradley admitted to having mixed feelings about receiving a knighthood. Born in Kilburn, he is now almost as famous for his sideburns and Mod image as his cycling exploits.

This was the year he became the first Briton to win the Tour De France, and he also won the Olympic Time Trial title and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

He told Sky News: "It's an incredible honour and it's an incredible thing to have. It's still not something that sits incredibly easily with me, I don't think it's something I'm going to use in daily life.

"(It's) an amazing thing to have in the drawer for my wife my kids and my family. It's topped the year off really."

Dame Sarah Storey first won Paralympic gold as a swimmer, and achieved even greater success when she switched to cycling.

A birth defect means she does not have a left hand, but she also competes against able-bodied cyclists and was pushing for a place in the Olympic squad.

"I really hope that everybody who's been connected to what I've done feels a part of what has happened," she told Sky News.

"To be honoured in this way - the top gong as you might say - you never even imagine or dream of it. It's just beyond your wildest dreams."

Her boss, Dave Brailsford, becomes Sir Dave after overseeing not just the Olympic triumphs, but the rise of Team Sky as a professional road racing team. Like Sir Bradley he is struggling to adjust to the adulation.

He said: "[It feels] very strange. On the one hand you feel proud and honoured, on the other hand it feels quite humbling really.

"It's a recognition for everything that's happened in cycling over a period of time. I'm the lucky one who gets recognised."

Jessica Ennis CBE told Sky News: "It sounds very surreal. It's such an honour.

"When you get involved in sport, and when I started, it certainly wasn't something that I ever thought of, so to now be in this position at 26 and be receiving a CBE is such an honour."

Cyclists Jason Kenny and his girlfriend Laura Trott end 2012 sharing four gold medals and two OBEs (Officer of the Order of the British Empire).

Andy Murray gets one not just for his Olympic victory, but also for winning the US Open.

Olympic rower Katherine Grainger, double equestrian gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin and paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds and paralympic horsewoman Sophie Christiansen add OBEs to the MBEs they collected following winning performances in the 2008 Beijing Games.

Christiansen told Sky News: "As athletes we work towards getting gold medals but this is the icing on the cake to be recognised."

Lord Coe, the mastermind of the Games, becomes a companion of honour, but one notable absentee from the list is film director Danny Boyle, the creator of the opening ceremony.

He appears to be one of the minority who for various reasons decline to be honoured.