Nervous Olympic heroes receive New Year honours from Queen

Jessica Ennis, Nicola Adams, and Greg Rutherford among elite sports stars facing 'ultimate pressure' of meeting royalty

Some of Britain's Olympic heroes were almost lost for words as they met the Queen to receive their New Year honours.

While Jessica Ennis, Nicola Adams, Joanna Rowsell, Jason Kenny and Greg Rutherford set the Games alight with their spectacular performances, the head of state played her part by falling out of the sky from a helicopter during the opening ceremony (or at least allowing a body double to do so on her behalf).

Asked what the Queen said as she presented her with her CBE at Buckingham Palace, Ennis, 27 – who won the heptathlon – replied: "You know when you're so nervous and you forget? She just said the summer was amazing, 'How's training?', so it was very, very nice."

For Rowsell, 24, collecting an MBE for her part in the women's cycling team pursuit, the meeting went well. "I was thinking heels and trying to remember what to do. It was good. The Queen said it was a fantastic summer and we had a chat about it. It was nice to meet her one on one."

Adams, 30, the first woman to win Olympic boxing gold, said after getting her MBE: "I think it was a bit of a mixture of nerves and excitement rolled into one," while Kenny, whose two sprint cycling medals won him an OBE, said: "The Queen said she was very happy to give me the medal, so I said 'thank you very much'."

Kenny, 24, who also won a gold medal at last week's track cycling world championships in Belarus, added: "No one compares to the Queen. I've been lucky enough to meet her a few times now, and you get 15 seconds. It's the ultimate pressure situation. I'm not very good with words, especially when the pressure's on. It's terrible. But yeah, it was amazing."

Rutherford, 26, the long jump champion who received an MBE, said: "This is very, very different, you are meeting the most famous person in the world at the most iconic building in the world. You are surrounded by dignitaries and people who have done incredible things. I did not want to say the wrong thing, trip over or look like a real doughnut. I was really on edge.

"It's not every day you get to do something like this and meet the Queen. The heart's racing a bit. You dream of doing well at an Olympics, especially a home Olympics, and then the things that come along after that are out of this world.

"I don't think you can imagine these sorts of things happening and being awarded by the Queen. It is just extraordinary."

Others honoured yesterday were Dave Brailsford, performance director of British Cycling, who received a knighthood, cricketer Robert Croft MBE, Bletchley Park codebreaker Raymond "Jerry" Roberts MBE, and Cherie Blair, who was awarded a CBE for services to women's issues and charities.


James Meikle

The GuardianTramp

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