Bradley Wiggins: “I’d feel uncomfortable with people calling me 'Sir Bradley,’”
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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bradley Wiggins: “I’d feel uncomfortable with people calling me 'Sir Bradley,’”

by Ben Atkins at 1:11 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Olympics
Tour de France winner still not aiming for celebrity lifestyle on the eve of BBC Sports Personality

bradley wigginsBradley Wiggins (Team Sky) is the overwhelming favourite to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) award tomorrow night, where he would succeed current teammate Mark Cavendish as only the fourth cyclist in history to take the prestigious prize. The fact that three of those four will have won SPOTY in the last five years shows how much the profile of cycling in the UK has risen in recent years, but it may not be the only end of year award that comes the Gent-born Londoner’s way this winter.

Sir Chris Hoy - who won the award in 2008 following his triple Beijing Olympic gold - received his knighthood in the Queen’s New Year Honours shortly afterwards and, having become the first ever Briton to win the Tour de France this summer, Wiggins may well be headed for the same thing this year.

“It would be an incredible honour but I’d feel uncomfortable with people calling me 'Sir Bradley,’” said Wiggins in an interview with the Daily Telegraph at Team Sky’s training base in Mallorca. “I won’t insist on people calling me it. It’ll be an amazing thing to have and to go through that ceremony: recognition, the highest you can get, but I won’t use the title, probably.”

Having achieved so much this season, with his seventh Olympic medal - and fourth gold - following his Tour victory - which itself had been preceded by Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, and Critérium du Dauphiné victory - Wiggins has often said that he is uncomfortable with the inevitable fame that has come with it.

“I’ve achieved what I’ve achieved and I accept what I’ve achieved. But I don’t think that makes me better than anyone else,” he said. “People’s perceptions of you change. I’m still the same person that was sat in this room 12 months ago. And I’ll still be the same on Sunday if I win. I’ve tried to promise my wife I won’t drink too much if I do win [SPOTY] because I sometimes let loose on microphones.

“I said a lot during the Tour and in my film [the Sky TV documentary ‘A Year in Yellow’] that I’m determined not to change,” he added. “People expect you to because you’ve achieved all these things. I don’t feel I should have to. Half the appeal is that people feel they can associate with you. They can understand your story: the bloke next-door sort of thing.”

The trappings of fame are something that have never sat comfortably with Wiggins, who has tried to resume some kind of normal life since his unprecedented summer of success. Being an inspiration to others is something he welcomes, but you won’t find him on too many TV shows in the future.

“I can’t stand the word celebrity and I despise everything about it,” he said. “It’s different from being recognised for being good at something, which I accept in our society, and is nice.

“I’ve had people coming up to me and saying, 'You changed my life, I got my bike out of the shed and I’ve lost five stone.’ People say that to me. Brilliant. That’s what it’s all about. But if people say I saw you on Big Brother or in the jungle [British TV show “I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here” - ed], it’s not something that appeals to me.

“Our country is fascinated by it as well,” he continued. “It’s a disgusting part of our society. It does nothing for our society. This summer did more for our country in terms of inspiring people and having real sporting heroes for people to look up to and kids to be inspired by. Look at the atmosphere around London, the whole country. Then you watch 'In the Jungle’, and it’s pathetic.”

Inevitably, however, Wiggins had a number of media obligations at the end of this season, particularly with the release of an autobiography last month. His encounter with a car on the way home from training brought him - literally - back down to earth, however, and helped to re-focus him on getting ready for the targets of next season.

“The thing that changed it all round was the accident in November,” he explained. “I was out late training because I had to do a day in London - a media day - then I was supposed to be on The Graham Norton show and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. And I crashed.

“It was a bit of a blessing in disguise.” he continued. “I thought ‘right, let’s get back to training now.’ I had a week off after the accident then I came out here [to Mallorca] for a week’s training. That was it. I just got the hunger back for it. It was a dramatic way to put a stop to it all, but it worked.”

Wiggins will find out tomorrow night if he is to be crowned the SPOTY, as the results of a phone vote are announced at the end of a live BBC TV show; he will then have to wait a little over two weeks to see if he is to become ‘Sir Bradley’, to add to the CBE he was awarded in 2008.


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