Cycling: Wiggins takes medal mania in his stride
HAMPTON COURT, England
HAMPTON COURT, England (Reuters) - Bradley Wiggins played down his status as Britain's most decorated Olympian in typical fashion after winning the cycling time trial title on Wednesday.
The lad from Kilburn, in northwest London, has seven Olympic medals to his name, including four gold, after destroying the field to take the time trial at the London Games and surpass rower Steve Redgrave's total of six.
Asked what it meant to him, the Tour de France champion told a news conference: "Not a lot really, to be mentioned in the same breath with Steve Redgrave or Chris Hoy is an honor as it is, but ultimately it's all about the gold medals.
"Once you're an Olympic champion, the other ones, you just don't talk about them. 'How many you won?' You say three golds, you never say, and two silvers and a bronze," added the 32-year-old.
It was a first Olympic road title for Wiggins adding to his six track medals of two bronze from the Sydney Games, a silver in Athens and three golds in Beijing four years ago.
Wiggins has had a remarkable year, also becoming the first Briton to win the Tour and it will take some time to sink in.
"Vodka tonic helps," he said.
"You train all year physically, you can't train for what comes next. Inside you're still the same person, you try to get back to normal life.
"You just deal with it. It's why people end up on the Priory," he added, in reference to a famous drugs and alcohol rehabilitation centre near London akin to America's Betty Ford clinic.
As soon as he won the Tour on July 22, a knighthood was being discussed among pundits and fans - and the talk is unlikely to stop now.
But Wiggins could not care less.
"It is what it is. As much as it would be an honor to receive something like that, I don't think I'll ever use it, I'll put it in a drawer," he said.
"I'll always just be Brad."
Wiggins, whose father Garry - a Six-Day races specialist - left the family when his son was two, was quick to praise the support he received on the road.
"You'd have to be deaf not to hear it," he said.
"What is great with cycling is that everyone can come and watch it."
After briefly sitting on the throne installed to welcome the race leaders, Wiggins got back on his bike and cycled on the road to greet the fans lined up behind the safety barriers.
Fans were not allowed into the forecourt of Hampton Court Palace, where the medal ceremony was held.
"It's still a shame they could not see the ceremony because ultimately the fans are out there," said Wiggins.
"I just wanted to go back there, roll up and down, it's always good.
"The great thing with cycling is this facility did not cost you anything, they did not even resurface the road," he explained.
"When it's all over in a couple of weeks anyone can ride that circuit and pretend they're one of us."
It is likely that they will pretend to be Wiggins.
(Editing by ALison Wildey)
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