I don’t know a lot about cycling (I leave that to my father-in-law) but I have read Lance Armstrong’s book “It’s not about the Bike” so I have a little understanding of how obsessive these individuals can be. Wiggins is, apparently, cut from the same cloth as Armstrong, either living a pretty boring life in the small village of Ecclestone in Lancashire or a ‘monk-like’ existence at a training camp in Majorca in pursuit of his goals.
There is no entourage here. No hangers-on, no long tail of ‘friends’ or newspaper headlines at the front rather than the back of the paper, just single-minded dedication. Even the French have taken him to their hearts, calling him “Le Gentleman Wiggins” after he deliberately slowed the pace to allow his rival, Cadel Evans, the Australian winner of last year’s Tour, to repair his bike and catch up with the rest after saboteurs threw tacks at the summit of the final climb of stage 14.
It is much the same with Els. Six years ago his world and his golf game collapsed when he found out that his son had autism. Slowly and painstakingly he has dragged himself back (at the same time as raising millions through his ‘Els for Autism’ campaign).
Yesterday with nine holes to go, as everybody else went backwards, Els went forwards. Four birdies on the fiendishly difficult back nine to come back in 32 and snatch the trophy from Adam Scott. Yes, Scott collapsed like Devon Loch, but Els applied enough pressure for the cracks to appear in Scott’s game.
His victory speech yesterday was not about him or how he was feeling. It was all about the loser, Scott, and the role Nelson Mandela has played in using sport to unite his country, South Africa.
One of my favourite phrases is “good things happen to good people”. Yesterday in Paris and on a golf course in Lancashire, good things happened!