Yesterday, I was reading John Inverdale’s column on sports in City AM. Inverdale is a supposed sports journalist who recently, famously, nearly lost his job with the BBC by making sexist comments live on air about new Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli. So I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to be the sharpest tool in the journalistic toolbox. But I was nonetheless amazed to see him saying the following in a column decrying the practise of knighting sportsmen and women whilst still active:
Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins are waiting in cycling’s hall of fame for Sir Chris Froome, who must surely receive a similar accolade – why is his Tour de France win this year less remarkable than Wiggins’ 12 months ago?
Sir Chris Hoy was knighted after winning his seventh Olympic medal (six gold and one silver), making him the greatest British Olympian of all time, taking that accolade from… Bradley Wiggins. In 2012 Wiggins not only became the first British man to win the General Classification (a.k.a. Yellow Jersey) of the Tour de France, he also won Olympic gold in the time trial at London 2012, to go with the medals he’d previously won at Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. That total of four golds, one silver and two bronze made him the most decorated British Olympian of all time until Chris Hoy overtook him a few days later.
So Bradley Wiggins has a Tour de France win, plus seven Olympic medals, four of them gold. Chris Froome has a Tour de France win, plus one Olympic bronze medal.
With respect, those two records are not comparable. Froome’s Tour de France win is one hell of an achievement, but the Tour de France win was only a part of what got Bradley Wiggins a knighthood. Given that Chris Hoy got a Knighthood purely on the basis of a similar Olympic medal haul to Bradley Wiggins, it’s arguable that Wiggin’s Tour de France win played only a minor role in getting Wiggins his knighthood, that he might have got it anyway.
John Inverdale is supposed to be a sports journalist. Is it really possible that he doesn’t know that Bradley Wiggins is one of only two Britons in history to win seven Olympic medals? Is it conceivable that he doesn’t know what Wiggins got his knighthood for?
Or was he just skipping facts to make a lazy point in his column?
I’m not sure what’s worse.