Thu, Jan 01, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Britain’s Olympic heroes scoop New Year’s Honors

AFP , LONDON

Britain’s Olympic heroes added a fresh haul of medals to their Beijing haul yesterday in the New Year’s Honors List, also notably featuring Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton.

Track cycling star Chris Hoy, who won three gold medals at the Beijing Games in August, received a knighthood.

“It’s a huge honor, really unexpected and just an amazing way to end the year,” the 32-year-old told the BBC. “A knighthood is a unique thing. You can’t compare it to anything else — it’s something that money can’t buy,” he said.

In an impressive family double, Hoy — or Sir Chris as he can now call himself — can celebrate the top honor with his mother Carol, who became a Member of Order of the British Empire (MBE).

“I was as delighted with my mum getting her MBE as I was with my knighthood,” the Scot said.

Britain’s Olympic team won 47 medals in Beijing, led by the cyclists, in the best showing for Britain in a century. They came fourth in the overall medals table.

Those honored afresh yesterday included cyclists Victoria Pendleton, Nicole Cooke, Edward Clancy, Jason Kenny and Rebecca Romero; sailors Ben Ainslie, Philippa Wilson, Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb; athlete Christine Ohuruogu and canoeist Tim Brabants.

Ohuruogu, the only British athlete to win gold in a track and field event at the Beijing Olympics, welcomed her MBE.

“It is nice to be called the Olympic, world and Commonwealth champion and now to be made an MBE is extra special,” she said.

Paralympic swimnmer Eleanor Simmonds, the youngest person ever on the New Year’s Honors List at 14, said: “This year has been a real whirlwind and really a fairy tale ... It’s just so amazing.”

Hamilton, who stormed into the record books in November as the youngest champion in Formula One history, said he felt “humbled” by his award.

“It is the most amazing culmination to what has been quite a year for me,” the 23-year-old said.

“It is a massive honor and incredible privilege for me to receive an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen,” Hamilton said.

Those on the annual list, announced by the Cabinet Office, will receive their medals from Queen Elizabeth II in ceremonies in Buckingham Palace in the coming months.

Hoy voiced hope that he could receive his honor at the same time as his mother, a former senior nurse recognized for work on sleep-related illnesses.

“I wouldn’t want her day to be overshadowed by me but it would be nice if we were both there together,” he said.

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