Arise, Sir Bradley – whether the people's hero likes it or not
Man of the people Wiggins leaves 'prawn sandwich fest' to celebrate with time trial spectators
BRADLEY WIGGINS duly delivered Britain the gold medal he'd promised and then brushed aside talk of his being knighted. "'Sir' doesn't quite sound right, does it?" grinned the 32-year-old Londoner after destroying the field in the Olympic time trial. "Of course it would be an honour to receive something like that [but] I don't think that I would ever use it. I'd just put it in the draw. I'll always just be Brad."
Or 'Wiggo', the name chanted by the tens of thousands of spectators who lined the route of the 44km time trial to cheer on the man who last month became the first Briton to win the Tour de France.
Even Wiggins, a man not known for letting his emotions run away with him, was stunned by the sheer scale of his support. "The noise was really phenomenal. I've never experienced anything like it in my career," he said.
Wiggins completed the course – which began and ended at Hampton Court Palace - at an average speed of 32.38mph, finishing an extraordinary 42 seconds ahead of Germany's Tony Martin who took the silver. Britain's Chris Froome rode superbly to take the bronze, finishing 68 seconds after his compatriot and Sky team-mate.
As if to prove he's a man of the people Wiggins cycled out to celebrate with his supporters after the medal ceremony rather than hobnob with the corporate crowd within the palace grounds. "The great thing with cycling is that anyone can come and watch it," he explained later. "Whereas here you've got to be the chosen few to get in somewhere like this [Hampton Court], and it's a bit of a prawn sandwich fest.
"And I think it's nice to go back out the gates there. All the public are behind the gates. It's sort of a shame that they couldn't see the [medal] ceremony. So it was nice to just go back and just roll up and down in gratitude."
Wiggins's gold was his seventh Olympic medal, more than any other British Olympian, though only four of them are gold while rower Steve Redgrave has five golds among his tally of six medals. Consequently he told the BBC's Gary Lineker he'd have to "carry on to Rio" in 2016 to make it five.
Unsurprisingly, Wiggo has been installed as the bookies' firm favourite to scoop the BBC's Sport Personality of the Year award in December. Not that he'll give a damn about an event that in recent years has become as much about celebrity than sport. As recently as last month, as he rode to glory in the Tour de France, Wiggins took a swipe at Britain's vacuous celebrity culture, saying: " It's nice to be recognised for achieving something in life because so much of British culture is built on people being famous for not achieving anything."
Unlike some of his younger and prettier Team GB colleagues at these Olympics, Wiggins eschews the trappings of celebrity in favour of training, training and more training. The results are there for all to see, as Wiggins reminded reporters after his golden ride. "It's a reward for the months of training, sleeping in an oxygen tent in the spare room, weeks away from my family and the sacrifices they have made."
It will surely be 'Sir Bradley' in the New Year's Honours List for the man who's sacrificed everything bar his sideburns in the pursuit of perfection. ·