Bradley Wiggins is knighted in the Queen's new year's honours list, leading a host of Olympic and Paralympic athletes who made their names at London 2012.

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Tour de France and Olympic gold medal winner Sir Bradley Wiggins heads a sparkling list of British sporting heroes, including sailor Ben Ainslie, who also gets a knighthood, Paralympic cyclist Sarah Storey, who is made a dame, and Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Mo Farah and David Weir, who all receive CBEs.

Affectionately known as Wiggo, the first British winner of the tour, said: "It's quite something really. I never imagined that I would ever become a knight so it's an incredible honour but there's a slight element of disbelief, and it will take a while to sink in.

"There was never any doubt whether I'd accept it or not, it was more a case that I never saw myself as a sir, and I probably never will."

The sporting stars who achieved so much at London 2012 meant a special honours list was added this year.

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'Incredible honour'

There was also recognition for those behind the Games. Lord Coe, who becomes a Companion of Honour, while Jean Tomlin, who led the Games Maker programme, gets an OBE.

Sir Bradley's knighthood is undoubtedly the icing on the cake in a year which saw him win the Tour de France, take Olympic gold in London, then be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Dame Sarah Storey. (Getty)

Dame Sarah, 35, (pictured above) is honoured for services to cycling after winning four gold medals at London 2012, taking her Paralympic gold medal total to 11, and one of the country's most successful Paralympians.

I can't believe the number of times we've said this year, 'Oh, can 2012 possibly get any better?' Sarah Storey

She said: "I can't believe the number of times we've said this year, 'Oh, can 2012 possibly get any better?'. We feel so fortunate that 2012 will always stand out as being the most incredible year."

Dave Brailsford and David Tanner, performance directors at British Cycling and British Rowing, who drove their teams to success at London 2012.

Ainslie (pictured below) said: "This is an incredible honour. When I set out Olympic sailing 20 years ago, I never would have dreamt this would happen."

Sir Ben Ainslie, Britain's most decorated sailor. (Getty)

From golds to gongs

CBEs go to some of sport's biggest household names - rower Katherine Grainger, heptathlete and London 2012 poster girl Ennis, cyclist Pendleton, wheelchair athlete Weir, and Farah, who captured the nation's hearts with his double gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m.

OBEs go to equestrians Sophie Christiansen and Charlotte Dujardin, tennis hero Andy Murray, paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds and cycling couple Laura Trott and Jason Kenny.

Among those to get MBEs are boxer Nicola Adams; canoeist Timothy Baillie; equestrians Laura Bechtolsheimer and Carl Hester; rowers Katherine Copeland and Helen Glover; wheelchair racer "Hurricane" Hannah Cockcroft; and paralympic swimmer Josef Craig.

Triathlon gold medallist Alistair Brownlee gets an MBE but brother Jonathan, who took bronze, misses out, while the MBE also goes to Welsh Tae Kwon Do gold medallist Jade Jones, Paralympic poster boy Jonnie Peacock, long jump hero Greg Rutherford and gymnast Louis Smith.

The honours also recognise those who contributed to London 2012 in a "non-sporting capacity", although Danny Boyle, creator of the epic opening ceremony, is missing amid speculation he turned down an honour.

Singer Kate Bush gets a CBE. (Getty)


Higgs hooray!

Away from sport, the Companion of Honour goes to Professor Peter Higgs, namesake of the Higgs Boson or so-called "God particle", which was finally proved to exist in July, 48 years after he first proposed it.

There is a knighthood for illustrator Quentin Blake and CBEs for artist Tracey Emin, choreographer Arlene Phillips and singer/songwriter Kate Bush (pictured above).

Bush said she was "deeply honoured", while former Strictly Come Dancing judge Phillips said: "I am very pleasantly surprised but mostly absolutely thrilled and delighted to receive such a wonderful honour".

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Met police commissioner. (Getty)

Cherie Blair, pictured below, who is married to Tony Blair, is given a CBE in recognition of her service to women's issues and to charity in the UK and overseas, actor Ewan McGregor and fashion designer Stella McCartney get OBEs, and former England cricketer Mark Ramprakash gets an MBE.

Former Financial Services Authority (FSA) chief executive Hector Sants has been recognised for services to financial regulation with a knighthood. Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe gets a knighthood while Jonathan Evans, head of MI5, is made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.

Recognised with an MBE in the Diplomatic and Overseas list is Captain Raymond "Jerry" Roberts, one of the four founder members of Bletchley Park's Testery section, tasked with breaking the German top-level code Tunny.

Cherie Blair gets a CBE. (Getty)

An MBE also goes to Penelope Clough, 53, who set up the Justice For Jane campaign with husband John after her daughter was murdered by her ex-partner in 2010 whilst he was on bail.

Recipients of the British Empire Medal (BEM), reintroduced in the 2012 Queen's birthday honours, include Mandy Painter, who has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the Starlight Children's Foundation, which grants wishes for seriously-ill children, after her 11-year-old son died of a brain tumour.

Sport makes up about 10 per cent of the awards, education 10 per cent, health 7 per cent, and industry and the economy make up 12 per cent.

A Knight Grand Cross goes to Sir Alan Budd, a founding member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), who came out of retirement to lead the Office for Budget Responsibility, and a knighthood goes to former Financial Services Authority head Hector Sants, who is due to take up a new position at Barclays in January.

A cabinet office spokesman said an unprecedented number of people from the sporting world had received honours - 123 compared to 44 in the last list. Of these, 78 were related to the Olympics or Paralympics.

He said: "It's difficult to second guess what success will be like in the future but as we've seen with the reintroduction of the British Empire Medal, as we've seen with the special list for Olympians and Paralympians, there is a desire to continue to expand the honours system and make sure we're extending the reach."

Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, turned down a CBE offered for services to the Olympics, he revealed after the list was awarded.

"I was offered a CBE," he said. "I don't believe politicians should get honours. You had this thing for years that any Tory MP who survived in house for 20 years automatically got a knighthood."