THEY are Hampshire’s very own Golden Wonders – and now their achievements have been rewarded in the New Year’s Honours list.
Britain’s most successful ever sailing Olympian, Ben Ainslie has been given a Knighthood.
Cyclist Dani King has been rewarded with an MBE after she won gold in the team pursuit at the Olympic velodrome, setting a world record.
Also receiving an MBE is Southampton’s Helena Lucas, who won Britain’s first ever Paralympic sailing gold.
Last night it was revealed that 35-year-old Ben is also set to be awarded the freedom of his home town.
Lymington mayor, Councillor Jacqui England, said: “I’m absolutely delighted – it couldn’t have gone to a better recipient. The whole town will be waiting to congratulate him yet again.”
Ben had been tipped to receive a knighthood ever since he won his fourth gold medal at the London Olympics in August.
His hard-fought victory in the Finn class at Weymouth followed similar successes at the 2000 Games in Sydney, the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2008 contest in Bejing.
These and a silver he won in Atlanta in 1996, make him the most decorated sailor in Olympic history.
In November Ben was named Sailor of the Year by the International Sailing Federation for the fourth time.
Just days later he retired from Olympic sailing to focus on his campaign to win the America’s Cup.
Meanwhile his coach, David “Sid” Howlett, of Titchfield, becomes an MBE for services to sailing and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
David took part in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and turned to coaching after failing to be selected for the Los Angeles Games in 1984.
Former Hamble Community Sports College pupil, Dani, 22, also becomes an MBE after she, along with teammates Joanne Rowsell and Laura Trott, smashed their world-record for the sixth time to take gold in the Team Pursuit.
Dani, who, is today heading to Manchester to resume training for the World Championships in February, said: “It’s absolutely incredible.
I wasn’t expecting it at all but it has topped off what has been the most amazing year.
“It is not just mine, this is also for the huge amount of people who have helped and supported me to get me to where I am today.”
Dani’s teammates Trott and Rowsell have also been honoured along with Bradley Wiggins who has been knighted after winning Olympic gold and the Tour de France.
Dani added: “I think he deserves it. He has had an amazing year and I know how hard he has worked to get where he is today. He is an inspiration to me.”
Being made an MBE has topped off an “amazing year”
for Helena Lucas.
Speaking from the Virgin Islands, the gold-medallist was pleased to have got the recognition for gaining Team GB’s first Paralympic sailing medal at Weymouth.
“It just makesmefeel so honoured, so proud. What a fantastic way to round off such an amazing year,” she said adding that like the gold medal, it will be with her for life.
The Southampton Solent University graduate won the single-handed small keelboat class at the regatta.
The 37-year-old, who started sailing aged eight, also told the Daily Echo she will take a year off sailing before competing in Rio 2016.