20/08/2012 06:34 BST | Updated 20/08/2012 13:05 BST

Olympics Honours: Only 'One Or Two' Medal Winning Athletes Will Get Gongs Says Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

Only "one or two" of Team GB's winning Olympic and Paralympic athletes will be given top honours because of quotas on gongs, Paralympic winner Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has said.

Her comments come in the wake of a row after Jonathan Stephens, the top civil servant at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, admitted not all of Britain's 43 gold medal winners will get “automatic gongs."

"It's the contribution over career and over a lifetime, it's how that's sustained, it's whether you put something back," he told the BBC.

But Downing Street insisted on Monday that there is no quota for the award of honours to Britain's gold medal-winning Olympic athletes.

"Honours are awarded on merit, not according to quotas," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

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On Monday morning Baroness Grey-Thompson, a member of the committee that will decide on honours, said "the sports honours committee can’t just give out 20 knighthoods or 20 dames, we have a number each year that we can allocate."

"We do have numbers, we do have a limit on the numbers that we can award each year, and I think this is where we’re trying to manage expectation," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It’s generally around sort of one or two knighthoods a year, and then a few CBEs, more OBEs, and then at the bottom it can be up to 45/50 MBEs…

“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to balance achievement in sports, against somebody who’s maybe volunteered for a number of years."

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But the British Olympic Association's outgoing head Lord Moynihan said every single gold medalist deserved "recognition."

The Daily Telegraph reported in May the changes had been requested by the prime minister with head of the civil services saying in a memo: "He wants the Honours Committees to give more consideration to how our top sports stars, actors, business people etc are also using their prominence and profile for the greater good."