Bradley Wiggins is in many respects the rock star of British cycling, bursting into the national consciousness in Athens where he won gold, silver and bronze medals.
By Peter Foster in Beijing
Last Updated: 3:11PM BST 18 Aug 2008
The 28-year-old Londoner is known for his love of punk-rock and specifically Paul Weller which he plays at full volume on his ipod before races, along with tracks from the Jam and the Who according to his wife, Cath.
“He loves everything about the mods,” she said, “he even has a classic mod scooter and the hairdo to match. He was forced to shave it off before the games because it was too hot for training. He was devastated!”
The son of a professional cyclist, Gary Wiggins, Brad was born in Ghent, Belgian but grew up in London quickly following in his estranged father’s tracks, racing in the Herne Hill Velodrome in south London from the age of 12.
Wiggins says that he is now a much more mature figure now than the ride who went wild with excitement after winning his first gold in Athens in the individual pursuit.
He is still known in the team as a ‘big event’ rider, a man who always rises to the occasion, but in Beijing he has been determined not to have his head turned by all the attention that comes with winning gold.
“I don’t do emotion any more,” he said after defending his title in Beijing, “
“Athens sort of destroyed me. I was young and winning that first gold took it out of me and I underperformed in the team pursuit.”
Both Wiggins and his wife say that above all it is fatherhood that has steadied him, with the birth since Athens of his son, Ben, 3 and daughter, Isabelle, now 18 months.
“It puts everything into perspective,” said Mrs Wiggins, 27, “the children don’t care if daddy comes first or last, they just want him to take them swimming or to the local park.”
Wiggins agrees. “Up to the moment my children were born, all I had was cycling,” he said in an interview before Beijing, “It was the be-all and end-all of life. If I was injured or didn’t win an Olympic gold, what was I going to do? The beauty of children is they bring you back to earth.”