What a year 2012 is shaping up to be already. Andy Murray is the first British Man to make the finals of Wimbledon in 70 odd years. A British man, in fact a Yorkshireman, Jonathan Marray actually won the Mens Double at Wimbledon. But far, far, far outstripping these achievements is Bradley Wiggins. On the cusp of the London Olympics he has become the first British Tour De France winner ever. He has worn the leader’s yellow jersey since 7 July and even won over the French, “Allez Wiggo”. He has cycled over 3,000 kilometres, up and down 5 mountain ranges in 20 days and yesterday triumphantly into Paris.
I have always had a real soft spot for Bradley Wiggins. Maybe it is because of his mod sensibilities, those unmistakable sideburns, or maybe that he lives in Chorley (having moved to be closer to the British Cycling Team), but I think it is mainly because he remains a very humble, straightforward, plain speaking person despite of his immense talent.
He was winning Olympics medals in the 2000 and 2004 games. In Athens he was the first Brit to win 3 medals at one games since Tokyo. But this was all before British cycling hit the Gold payload in Beijing. Bradley won 2 golds but Chris Hoy won 3 and to the pursuant media this was the story, and heaped all focus and attention on Chris Hoy. All sorts of accolades from Knighthoods to Sports personality of the year followed. All the time Bradley Wiggins was by his side, but in my opinion being grossly and unjustly overlooked. He never seemed to look anything other than gracious and a team player but I used to think it was so unfair.
His attempts at the Tour De France have also demonstrated his true grit and never give up attitude, the first team he rode for was embroiled in a doping scandal when the team leader tested positive. He threw away that kit and never rode for them again. He came 4th in 2009 and yet had a disappointing race in 2010. Then 2011 he crashed out in the early stages and broke a collarbone. But he just got right back in the saddle this year and the rest is history. The most glorious, hard-fought for, sweetest reward of them all. I see with interest all the papers are now calling for Bradley Wiggins to be named sports personality of the year, oh the fickle finger of the media!
Will Carling wrote a book on sports psychology where he praised the inner reserves of someone like Adrian Moorhouse, the swimmer who had lost at two games before winning Gold at his third attempt. What incredible levels of self -belief must you retain to sustain 12 years of training, dedication, hard work and sacrifice to achieve that.
I have watched two amazing documentaries (Knockout Scousers and Victoria Pendleton: Cycling’s Golden Girl) about sportsmen and women training for the 2012 Games. As I watch from my armchair I can’t do anything but admire them, their spirit, talent and single-mindedness to dedicate their lives to their sport. I wish everyone the very best of luck for the next two weeks. I will be sitting in my armchair weeping for every winner (and loser!).