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Tour de France and Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins set to be knighted in New Year Honours list

Bradley Wiggins will lead an unprecedented list of sporting knights and dames in the New Year Honours list, with the new BBC Sports Personality of the Year one of four athletes likely to receive the highest recognition given to active sportsmen and women.

Telegraph Sport understands that Wiggins and four-time Olympic sailing gold medallist Ben Ainslie have been recommended for knighthoods in the list, which will be published on Dec 29.

Cyclist Sarah Storey, who became Britain’s most successful Paralympian this summer alongside Baroness Grey-Thompson, is understood to have matched her mentor by being recommended for a damehood.

It is understood that four-time London 2012 Paralympic champion David Weir has also been considered for a knighthood.

Dave Brailsford, crowned Coach of the Year by the BBC on Sunday, will receive a knighthood for his work as performance director of British Cycling and Team Sky, as will Paul Deighton, the chief executive of the London 2012 organising committee.

Deighton’s honour will come in addition to the peerage he is to receive as a condition of joining the government in the new year as a minister in the Treasury.

Wiggins, whose elevation to “Sir Bradley” has been a subject of speculation since he became the first British winner of the Tour de France, mentioned the honour after receiving his BBC award on Sunday night.

Asked if the Sports Personality award was the perfect end to the year he said: “Yeah, it is. There’s only the knighthood to come, isn’t there, really?”

Wiggins and his fellow high achievers of Britain’s remarkable sporting year will be recognised in a list that will reward every Olympic and Paralympic gold medallist with an honour of some kind.

For the first time a discrete London 2012 list has been created alongside the existing system to allow all of the stars of the summer to be rewarded appropriately.

The question of how to recognise the sporting stars of 2012 has been complicated by the sheer volume of remarkable performances registered in the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The usual ‘quota system’ for honours, which limited sport to a single knight or dame in any year, has proved inadequate to deal with the volume of medallists from an unprecedented year of achievement.

British Olympians won 29 gold medals out of a total of 65 medals, with 35 Paralympic golds out of 120 won in the second half of London’s remarkable sporting summer.

Cabinet Office rules state that, in addition to one knighthood or damehood a year, sport is usually limited to four CBEs, 20 OBEs, and 38 MBEs.

With such a long roll-call of success even that total of 62 honours was insufficient, leaving the honours committee to take the unprecedented step of establishing a separate list to deal with 2012.

The large number of athletes recognised are understood to have been notified by letter of which honours they are likely to receive.

The question of which honours to recommend was debated at length by a committee chaired by Lord Coe, with particular care taken over the knighthoods and damehoods.

These are only rarely awarded to active athletes, with Sir Chris Hoy a rare example of a sportsman knighted before the end of his career.

He received his honour after winning three gold medals in Beijing, only to add two more to his collection in London.

The four athletes selected this year have all been successful over a long period, with multiple Olympic and Paralympic appearances and medal hauls, and have already received honours.

Wiggins, who was awarded the CBE in the 2009 New Year Honours, has seven Olympic medals, while Ainslie, also a CBE, became the first man to win five consecutive Olympic medals in an individual event with the fourth straight gold won this summer.

Weir and Storrie were the stars of the London Paralympic team, with Weir, already an OBE, winning four wheelchair events from 1,500 metres to marathon in the space of 10 days.

Storrie, who also received an OBE in the 2009 new year honours, has 22 Paralympic medals in swimming and cycling, and won four gold medals in London.

Other leading stars of 2012, including Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah can expect to receive honours, but given their relative youth, and the fact this was their first Olympic Games, they were not considered for the highest recognition.

The honours will not be limited to athletes, with many of those responsible for delivering London 2012 behind the scenes expected to be rewarded.

Danny Boyle, the director behind the hugely successful Olympic opening ceremony that featured the Queen, is reported to have turned down an offer of a knighthood for his contribution to the arts, and his role in presenting London and the UK to the world.

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