Lancashire’s cycling ace Sir Bradley Wiggins has revealed that he had to face regular bullying at school to achieve his dream of becoming a professional athlete.
The 35-year-old Tour de France winner, who lives near Chorley, said he was labelled a “faggot” by classmates for wearing Lycra and for daring to break apart from the gang culture he grew up in.
Speaking about his childhood living in a council flat in Kilburn, north west London, he told The Times Magazine: “I felt like if you didn’t follow the crowd, you were cast aside. You were a ‘faggot’ for wearing Lycra.
“I would ride out of the estate in a tracksuit, and get up to Hampton Terrace, a posh area, then take my tracksuit off and put it in my bag. I just didn’t want to be seen in Lycra.
“Yes, I was bullied.”
Sir Bradley, who now lives with his wife Catherine and two children Ben and Isabella, was born in Ghent, Belgium, but moved to the UK where he lived with his mother, Linda. His father, Gary Wiggins, was also a professional cyclist who left the family when Bradley was less than two years old and died in 2008.
His family had little spare money and Sir Bradley said he raced “almost every day” on a cheap bike and in hand-me-down leggings as he became determined to push himself to professional level.
He suffered a bout of depression following failure to secure a top spot in the Tour de France earlier in his career, culminating in a crash during the 2011 race, which saw him break his collarbone and give up the title of stage winner to compatriot Mark Cavendish.
But Wiggins rose to success with an all-round win in 2012 and is now gearing up for his fifth Olympic Games in Rio 2016 and, hopefully, his eighth medal.
With only minutes of racing time in the global contest, he said: “This is a lot easier than the Tour de France. You are playing with fractions of a second. And I like that.”