- Matthew Sheahan
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Ben Ainslie Knighted
Ben Ainslie has been knighted in the New Year Honours list while his coach David ‘Sid' Howlett is awarded an MBE as has paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas.
Ainslie, who was recently short listed for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, is of course the most successful Olympic sailor as well as being the world's top Finn Sailor with six world titles. He is less well known for his charitable roles. Ainslie is an ambassador for the Prince's Trust, a patron of the John Merricks Sailing Trust which helps young people achieve their potential through sailing, and a supporter of Sail 4 Cancer which aims to improve the quality of life for those affected by cancer.
Moments after winning his fifth consecutive Olympic medal at the 2012 Games, Ainslie was quick to acknowledge the support of his coach David ‘Sid' Howlett who he claimed deserved official recognition. Four months later and his wish has been granted.
‘Great to hear my Coach David Howlett was awarded an MBE,' he Tweeted today after stepping off a plane in Hong Kong. ‘Some recognition for the guy who has coached more sailing medals than anyone.'
"This is an incredible honour. When I set out Olympic sailing twenty years ago, I never would have dreamt this would happen," he said. "I couldn't have achieved this honour without the support of all the people who have helped me throughout my career and so I hope they can also take some pride in this moment"
Helena Lucas became the first Paralympic gold medallist for sailing since it became a full Paralympic programme sport in 2000. Lucas was also the only female among an all-male fleet in the 2.4mR class and provided a dominating performance in Paralympic Games in Weymouth.
"It's a real honour and a fantastic end to an amazing year!" said Lucas. "It was totally unexpected as there have been so many outstanding sporting achievements this year!"
Away from the competitive spotlight, Malcolm Torry was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to disabled sailing through his work with Carsington Sailability in Derbyshire while President and Chairman of Sail Training International, Nigel Rowe was awarded an OBE for services to charitable services.
Another name familiar to sailing to be awarded an honour in the New Year list, Deputy Chair of the London Organising Committee of the Games, Sir Keith Mills was awarded the Companion of Honour (CH). Mills oversaw all the preparation for and the staging of the London 2012 Games, was international President and Chief Executive Officer of the London 2012 bid company and is Chair of the International Inspiration Foundation which is inspiring young people around the world to choose sport.