Olympic gold medallist and Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins has been awarded the “ultimate accolade” of a knighthood in the New Year Honours list.
Wiggins, who lives in Eccleston, will become a cycling knight after a year which saw him become the first British winner of the Tour de France and then add a fourth Olympic gold in the time trial in London.
The 32-year-old said: “It’s quite something really.
“I never ever imagined that I would ever become a knight so it’s an incredible honour but there’s a slight element of disbelief, and it will take a while to sink in.”
He added: “It’s not something I’ll use on a daily basis but it’s nice to have in the trophy cabinet as the ultimate accolade as a sportsman, being knighted by your country for not only the success this year but 12 years now of consistent work and performing - four Olympic Games, seven medals.
“It’s more the recognition of that so it’s fantastic.
“And to be an active knight as well along with Sir Chris (Hoy) is incredible for a sport like cycling.”
Wiggins’ knighthood follows hot on the heels of his runaway success as the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.
Though widely tipped to receive a knighthood, he thought he’d missed out, before receiving notification two weeks ago.
“I was in Spain on a training camp so it came quite late,” he said.
“I actually thought, early December, you normally hear by now, so I thought maybe it wasn’t going to happen this time so when it finally did come I thought, ‘Blimey’.”
Leyland pensioner Freda Smith, of Seven Stars Road, has also been honoured with a British Empire Medal for services to the community, having spent 18 years on the board of New Progress Housing.
She said: “I’m shocked and thrilled.”