With his win in the Men's Time Trial event at the London Olympics on Wednesday, Bradley Wiggins became Great Britain's most decorated Olympian of all time. That might be enough on its own to earn the man with the most famous sideburns in Britain a date with Her Majesty's sword, but when we remember that he achieved this success just 10 days after becoming the first British rider to ever win the Tour de France, the case is overwhelming.
Wiggins first came to prominence beyond the then small world of UK cycling back at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, when as a fresh-faced 20-year-old he was part of the team that delivered a bronze medal in the Team Pursuit discipline.
Despite turning professional with the French team Française des Jeux in 2002, he continued to race on the track and became the first British athlete in over 40 years to win three medals at one Games in 2004 when he collected gold in the Individual Pursuit, silver in the Team Pursuit, and bronze in the Madison. For that feat he was awarded an OBE, but he has gone so far beyond that now that a knighthood seems the only logical conclusion.
At Beijing 2008 he added two more Olympic golds to his collection, in the Individual and Team Pursuit disciplines, as Team GB cleaned up. And then he started turning his attentions increasingly to the road. In 2009 he finished fourth in the Tour de France, and a new plan was hatched to deliver cycling's ultimate prize to UK shores for the first time.
As the man behind the unstoppable rise of British Cycling, Dave Brailsford - shall we make him, what, a Lord while we're at it? - saw the worth in setting up a professional road team to pursue the goal of producing a British Tour winner. With sponsorship in place, Team Sky was launched in 2010 with the stated goal of delivering a British Tour de France champion within five years. Thanks to the dedication and talent of all involved, not least Mr Wiggins himself, it was delivered in their third season.
From the moment his success in France began to take shape to the moment he waved his Olympic gold to the crowds at Hampton Court Palace, Wiggins has been in the spotlight like never before. Throughout he has conducted himself with humour, humility and, yes, a little bit of swearing. He has used his platform to vocally denounce doping in cycling, and won over a legion of fans who haven't ridden a bicycle since they were 12. And we dare say that amongst the nation's current 12-year-olds he is inspiring thousands of little Wiggos up and down the land. After all, he's not just a champion, he's also pretty cool.
Wiggins himself admitted after his London 2012 win that his career can't possibly deliver anything better than Tour success and a home Olympic gold back-to-back. Which is why now is the right time to elevate the lad from Kilburn to the status of sporting knight. Go Wiggo.
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