If one was asked to describe Bradley Wiggins with a single word, determined would be my choice.
At the age of 12, he reveals to his art teacher his aspirations - he is going to be an Olympic champion and win the Tour de France. The teacher laughs at him and said “You must be crazy.”
The story and quote are now old news but that is not to say the story has lost any of its lustre or fairytale charm. His achievements are in themselves fantastic accomplishments but to actually state at that age that he will win both competitions, knowing full well what his choice entails and actually go on to do so is quite extraordinary.
It makes for buoyant reading, filling readers with rejuvenated national pride, leaving Olympic enthusiasts bubbling and diehard fans of the Tour de France weeping for joy, laying their eyes on a Brit wearing the elusive Yellow Jersey.
Bradley Wiggins wearing the coveted Yellow Jersey. Photo courtesy of William Morice
Training to be a serious contender for the Tour de France is no easy feat. The fitness regime Wiggins applied for 2012’s race was particularly harsh, forcing himself to lose body weight in an effort to combat the grueling up-hill stages of the Tour.
Furthermore, he displayed real sportsmanship during stage 14 of the Tour when he opted to slow down and wait for other competitors who had suffered punctures. Wiggin’s approach was encapsulated in the title of “Le gentleman” awarded to him by the highly partisan French press. No mean achievement.
Qualifying for the Olympics itself is no cakewalk either. For all the competitors that qualify there are many more who end their Olympic dream watching it from home. 2012 and the success that came at his fourth Olympic games, switching cycling disciplines in the process, showcases another extraordinary achievement, one which crucially has inspired the next generation of cyclists to follow in his footsteps. He has motivated the young to turn off the TV, get off the sofa and get on their bikes. The Bradley Wiggins Foundation has been started precisely so as to encourage the participation of the community in local sport.
Team GB: Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. Image courtesy of johnthescone
It is understandably easy to get swept away with the hype. Recently receiving a knighthood and winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year when the competition from the other entrants was particularly strong has only increased his stock value. The press have had a field day being able to draw on his sporting prowess and his “clean” reputation in the sport of cycling which quite frankly has had an appalling record in recent years. His “Mod” image quickly becoming a fashion icon reflects his persona, edgy with class and character, so it is refreshing to see an athlete with the strength of mind to concentrate on what he was born to do and to stand clear of getting too involved in the world of sport superstars which he seems in any case reluctant to enter.
At Hanging Out we celebrate Bradley's achievements and wish him all the best for the future. We shall be following his exploits and progress with great enthusiasm.
By Harry Smith