The Mayor is right to triumph how true athletes like Wiggins can inspire us all to a brighter sporting future, it’s just a real pity that the great and the good at the City of Westminster failed to realise this after his victories in 2008.
The winning of the Tour de France by local W9 boy Bradley Wiggins is truly remarkable, not only as the first British person to have achieved this accolade but by the manner of the victory and the style in which he did it. It will no doubt have a dramatic effect on the London 2012 Olympics as he returns to London to compete in the cycle road race next weekend; similar to the effect by Greece’s EURO Cup victory on the 2004 games in Athens, which I was lucky enough to witness first hand.
I welcome the call from papers like the Daily Telegraph for some recognition of his achievement nationally with even a knighthood, but it is a shame that his home borough, the City of Westminster turned down a proposal to award him the Freedom of the City in 2008 when it was put up Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg. This was despite him winning 2 gold medals at the Athens Olympic Games brining his Olympic haul to 6 medals including 4 golds! That made him the greatest Olympiad to hail from the City. The Tories simply refused saying they would put up a plaque at Paddington Recreation ground instead, which we are still unsure ever got done. Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg will no doubt pursue this again in light of Wiggin’s latest achievements in France and I wish this initiative again much success but l hope snobbery won’t get in the way on this occasion.
Now Bradley grew up in Maida Vale on the Church Commissioners Dibdin House estate just before Kilburn proper begins and falls within the W9 post code. When was a bit of Westminster ever in Kilburn, you may ask? He attended the local school, St Augustine’s in the City of Westminster and used local sports facilities like Paddington Recreation ground and Hyde Park for his sporting endeavours. But he had to leave Westminster to pursue his dreams because the best training centre for his cycling ambitions were at the Commonwealth Game’s velodrome in Manchester. However, his mother and grandmother remained in the neighbourhood.
So we have a working class hero from W9 and while he may not have got the recognition he deserves from his home borough in 2008, he has moved onto much greater things and should now be awarded the recognition he deserves, locally, nationally and globally. Westminster sadly missed an opportunity, to celebrate a local hero and to inspire others in the borough to follow in his footsteps some 4 years earlier.