Roger Bannister, who sadly passed away this week, became the first man to break the four-minute barrier for the mile in 1954.
He received his knighthood 21 years later in 1975.
Compare that with the unedifying rush to honour our sporting ‘heroes’ these days.
Gold medals and titles in events that exclude 75% of the world will always be accompanied by strong words of praise in the House of Commons by politicians desperate to bask in what they see as reflected glory.
Honours inevitably follow, but whoever recommended shamed cycling personalities Bradley Wiggins and Dave Brailsford for knighthoods should step down right now and never again be involved in the honours process.
Indeed no-one from the world’s shabbiest sport should ever be nominated for any award until they’ve been retired for at least 10 years, and been regularly drug tested during that time.
At least today’s politicians have corrected the disastrous decision to rush out a knighthood for an asthmatic, weedy kid who showed remarkable improvement year-on-year to eventually claim the Tour de France title.
Wiggins’ win has never sat easily with me and now a committee of MPs have cut through the legal waffle and exposed him for what he is. Wiggins is a dubious chancer who bent the rules to breaking point with the help of dodgy Dave, a doctor with amnesia and an opportunistic laptop thief whose actions conveniently enabled all the culprits to deliver a ‘dog ate the homework’ level excuse for failing to provide medical records which they claim would apparently have exonerated the main man.
It’s been a pitiful spectacle watching the prevarications of Wiggins and Brailsford in the last 12 months or so. Did they really expect the dedicated Daily Mail and the brilliant BBC just to walk away? Did they really think a team boasting of non-stop ‘marginal gains’ would be allowed to claim they are sloppy keepers of medical records? In cycling, the most tainted sport in history not to involve Russians?
This column is often critical of the cheerleading commentators employed by the Beeb, but their serious journalists have been in top form during this episode.
Wiggins should hand back his knighthood and be stripped of his biggest win. Just google his name and read transcripts of his early-career press conferences condemning anyone even suspected of cheating in his sport.
And then shake your head in disbelief by re-reading his latest offerings. He’s pretty much condemned by his own words.
Brailsford is another who should have his ‘sir’ removed after Team Sky have sacked him. I was resenting the extra money Sky TV are trying to prise out of me from April, even though they offer a vastly reduced service, even before they were exposed as the sponsors of a shady outfit in the most tarnished sport of them all.