• New Years Honours

'Sir' Ainslie elated, but Weir questions process

ESPN staff
December 29, 2012
Ben Ainslie has another award to add to his collection © PA Photos

Legendary Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie has described his award of a knighthood in the New Year Honours list as an "incredible honour".

Ainslie, a four-time Olympic gold medallist who claimed a dramatic gold at London 2012, joined cyclist Bradley Wiggins in receiving the top honour from the Queen, when the Honours list was announced on Saturday.

"This is an incredible honour," Ainslie said. "When I set out Olympic sailing twenty years ago, I never would have dreamt this would happen.

"I couldn't have achieved this honour without the support of all the people who have helped me throughout my career and so I hope they can also take some pride in this moment."

British cycling director Dave Brailsford and his rowing counterpart David Tanner will also receive KBEs, although Brailsford played down his own contribution to the results of the likes of Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny - who all received recognition from the Queen.

Brailsford noted: "I am just the conductor of this amazingly talented orchestra and you can only ever be as good as those individuals you have around you."

Another cyclist, Sarah Storey, an 11-time Paralympic champion, headlined a list of 28 Paralympians to receive awards - although there was a note of caution as wheelchair athlete David Weir, who won four golds in London, questioned whether Paralympians had to achieve greater feats to receive the same recognition as their able-bodied counterparts.

"I am absolutely honoured and delighted to receive this award," Weir told the Daily Telegraph. "I would have been disappointed if Sarah Storey had not been made a Dame because she deserves it with 11 gold medals.

"It is a weird one how they choose it. Sometimes it seems that Paralympians have to win lots and lots of medals to get a damehood or a knighthood. Kelly Holmes was made a Dame when she won two gold medals, but it seems we have to get into double figures to get it.

"Sarah Storey should have been awarded this years ago, and I just feel that sometimes we are left out perhaps because we are not in the public eye. It is a bit strange, but I am just honoured to get anything from the Queen for doing a sport I love."

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