Olympians and Paralympians top the gongs in honours list

Bradley Wiggins, Ben Ainslie and Sarah Storey were amongst the Olympians and Paralympians that topped the billing in the New Year honours list in a uniquely sporting set of gongs.

Wiggins, who won his fourth Olympic gold shortly after becoming the first British winner of the Tour de France was knighted and can now officially refer to himself as Sir Wiggo. Ben Ainslie, a gold medallist at four consecutive Games was also knighted, while Storey was made a Dame in recognition of her record 11 gold medals over her career As a Paralympian.

A knighthood would obviously be a step down for Lord Coe who pulled off such a triumphant games, so he was made a Companion of Honour in recognition of his work as chairman of Locog, and the chief executive of the Games, Paul Deighton, was knighted. The unprecedented increase in the number of honours awarded to sporting figures — 123 compared to 44 last year — meant that every British gold medallist at London 2012 now has an honour of some sort with the likes of Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis all being recognised.

It must be pointed out here that the person who launched the astonishing switch in British self perception that unfolded to pretty much universal surprise during the games, Danny Boyle refused an honour.

Professor Peter Higgs, the physicist who gave his name to the Higgs Boson particle which scientists believe they discovered at CERN this year, becomes a Companion of Honour alongside Seb Coe. There are knighthoods for illustrator Quentin Blake who has emerged from the shadow of Roald Dahl, Peter Hendy, commissioner of Transport for London; industrial designer Kenneth Grange; and Jonathan Evans, head of MI5. Hector Sants, former chairman of the Financial Services Authority also mystifyingly picked up an honour as he left for a plum job at Barclays just in case anyone was fooled into thinking that the honours system was no longer in hock to backroom establishment interests.

In an insanely misguided attempt to appear cool the eminently forgettable Tracey Emin received a CBE along with Kate Bush, Arlene Phillips and Cherie Blair, while Ewan McGregor got an OBE.

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