Tony McCoy caps 'crazy and memorable year' with a knighthood
Published 30/12/2015 | 22:56
Tony McCoy called it an "unbelievable privilege" as he was awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours in recognition of his incredible racing career.
The 41-year-old from Moneyglass in County Antrim retired from racing in April after being crowned champion jockey for a 20th consecutive year.
He heads a list of high-profile sporting names to be honoured which also includes five-time world snooker champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, two-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and two members of the England women's World Cup squad - captain Steph Houghton and team-mate Fara Williams.
McCoy said: " It is an unbelievable privilege and honour to receive a knighthood in the New Year Honours List. I certainly wasn't expecting it.
"I consider myself lucky to have had a job I loved, every single day. The team around me made it possible for me to achieve my goals and the support from the public and racing community since my retirement has been overwhelming. A knighthood really tops off what's been a crazy and memorable year."
O'Sullivan said in 2014 he was not interested in such awards, telling Eurosport: " I don't feel like I've achieved anything to warrant an MBE."
However he is awarded an OBE for services to snooker, and has had a change of heart.
The 40-year-old said: "I am extremely grateful for this recognition which is a great honour and has made both myself and my family very proud.
"It came as a great surprise to receive my OBE and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my family, friends and fans who have supported me throughout my career and made this achievement possible."
Froome said he was "extremely humbled and proud" to also be made an OBE after he became the first Briton to win cycling's premier road race the Tour de France on two occasions with his victory in July. British Cycling president Bob Howden has also been awarded an OBE.
Manchester City centre-back Houghton - who led England to a popular third-place finish in this summer's World Cup - said the MBEs for herself and midfielder Williams recognised the growing prominence of women's football.
Houghton said: "I am delighted and surprised to receive an MBE and it is a massive step in the right direction to see that we are being recognised both at country and club level.
"I would never have thought of receiving an MBE in a million years because my main aim is just to play as well as you can for your team and your country, and everything else comes as a bonus."
Football Association director Heather Rabbatts - who became the FA's first female board member in 2012 - has been made a dame for services to football and equality. Sports broadcasters Sue Barker and Jacqui Oatley have been awarded an OBE and an MBE respectively.
Tracey Neville, the coach of England's women's netball team, was awarded an MBE. She is the sister of former England football internationals Gary and Phil Neville.
Former England and Sale rugby union wing Mark Cueto and IBF super-bantamweight boxing champion Carl Frampton were also awarded MBEs.
Belfast-born Frampton said he was privileged to join such city luminaries as Barry McGuigan and double Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes in receiving an honour.
Frampton said: "It came as a big surprise and it was actually Barry who told me the good news. I am happy and proud and I am pleased that my sport of professional boxing has got some recognition.
"It is a good time to get the award ahead of my unification fight against Scott Quigg next month, and it gives me an incentive to go on and achieve even more in my career in the future."
Manchester United and Scotland great Denis Law and Manchester City's former forward Francis Lee, who was later a chairman of the club, each receive the CBE for services to football and charity.
John Surtees also receives the CBE for services to motorsport. The 81-year-old won seven world motorcycling championships before switching to four wheels and winning the 1964 Formula One title.