The Great Olympians

Praise has poured in for cyclist Bradley Wiggins and rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning after they scooped Britain’s first gold medals of 2012. The most successful British Olympian by gold medals won is Steve Redgrave, who won five consecutive gold medals in rowing. Cyclist Bradley Wiggins has the most overall medals by a British Olympian with seven. Helen and Heather, protégés of Sir Steve, were the first women rower British Olympians to win Gold.

Bradley Wiggins wrote his name large in Olympics and cycling history at Hampton Court today with a magnificent gold medal in the men’s time trial. His victory which means he was won more Olympic medals than any other Briton: seven in total, including four gold. Compatriot Chris Froome won bronze.It was good to see them receive their medals outside the magnificent Palace I visited in June.

Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins races towards the finish line during the Men's Individual Time Trial

Greatest ever? Bradley Wiggins nears the finishing line on his way to collecting his seventh Olympic medal PA
Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins celebrates with his wife Cath after winning the Men's Individual Time Trial

Family affair: Wiggins sought out his wife Cath and children following the victory  

Wiggins, who won the Tour de France less than two weeks ago, destroyed the field with a sensational ride to cover the 44km course in 50min 39.54sec, a full 42sec ahead of the world champion Tony Martin from Germany, who took the silver medal in 51:21.54.

There was further joy for Great Britain when Froome, who rode so strongly in support of Wiggins in the Tour de France, battled his way around the course to take a splendid bronze medal, a hugely deserved personal accolade for an a man who has ridden loyally for others this season. Froome averaged just over 30mph to finish in 51:47.87.

Wiggins’s achievement also means he has equalled the achievement of his boyhood hero Miguel Indurain in winning the Tour de France and the Olympic time trial.

As he has done all season, Wiggins produced a beautifully balanced effort over a course which was packed all the way by supporters waving union flags, a once in a lifetime experience for a British rider.Police estimates put the crowd on the roadside in excess of 300,000. Much of the time they were chanting his name in football-crowd style, scenes we have never seen before.

“I cannot put it into words, I wouldn’t do it justice,” he said. “It’s really incredible to win an Olympic Gold in your home city. When you win in the velodrome there are three or four thousand people cheering.

“Here, around the streets of London, the noise is just amazing. I don’t think anything will top that. It’s just been phenomenal.”

Wiggins’s Olympic story actually stretches back to 1992, when he was called in from a game of street football by his mother Linda to watch Chris Boardman win the 4km individual pursuit final on the track at Barcelona.

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