“Bradley Wiggins”….when I first hear it, it caught my attention because even though I did not know who he was or what he did, the name was unique, conjuring up some quintessential British qualities of deprecating humour, modesty, straightforwardness and kindness. Someone called Bradley Wiggins must, I felt, be the sort of person to tend his allotment, breed pigeons and enjoy a pint in the pub on a Friday night. When, more recently, I heard and saw him through the news I realised that while on some of the detail of my imaginings I was wrong, of course, his essence, evoked through his name, was not so very far from my first idle reflections. Even though his father is Australian, Bradley Wiggins looks and sounds very English, and even now, after becoming one of the most famous sportsmen in British history, he is likely to be unnoticed if he goes to buy petrol or stop off for a cup of tea. He looks and sounds down to earth and “ordinary”: most people would be comfortable in his company and his approachability and endearing attitude makes him a perfect role model for children and adults alike, for his conduct as much as for fitness and achievement. He is a celebrity now, but he does not behave like one – he is himself.
While his abilities are extraordinary and he deserves every word of praise and recognition for winning the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins’ success has an added dimension because of what he is called. It would still be tremendous but not the same if William Brown, for example had been his name. For each of us, too, our name is an important reflection of who we are and sometimes it helps to change our name slightly or considerably in order for it to be comfortable; it can happen through marriage, or nicknames or abbreviation or a name-change by deed poll, and it is interesting how often children want to play with their name to suit what they feel about themselves.
Meanwhile, Bradley Wiggins will be remembered always, with admiration and affection – and his career is not over as he prepares already for the Olympics in a few days. Our most famous sportsman will deserve the cheers as he takes his place on the track, and like many in the world I wish him well.]]>