Lewis Hamilton is to be knighted in the New Year Honours list, with Rob Burrow and Jimmy Greaves also recognised with an MBE award.
Earlier this year, Hamilton became F1’s most successful driver of all time, breaking the record for the most race wins and matching Michael Schumacher as a seven-time champion.
Hamilton has combined his record-breaking sporting achievement in F1 this year with being a powerful voice in the Black Lives Matter movement, while the Mercedes driver is also a long-time supporter of children’s charities and environmental issues.
Stefano Domenicali, who takes over as CEO of Formula One next year, said in a statement: “Lewis is a true giant of our sport and his influence is huge both in and out of a car.
“What he has achieved is phenomenal with still more to come. All of us at Formula 1 congratulate him on this well deserved recognition of his achievements and look forward to seeing more of his brilliance in 2021.”
Densign White, chairman of Sporting Equals, told Sky Sports News: “I think he [Hamilton] thoroughly deserves it. He is a great ambassador, a great role model and I think he’ll use that knighthood to do good things for his community.
“He’s always been an advocate for racial equality and diversity and a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think he’s going to use that to try and improve that situation for everybody, because unless everybody wins, no one wins.”
Hamilton has not resided permanently in the UK since 2007, and his knighthood was included on the Diplomatic and Overseas List.
Jimmy Greaves awarded MBE
Also among those recognised is England’s 1966 World Cup-winner Jimmy Greaves.
The 80-year-old is Tottenham’s all-time record scorer, with 266 goals in 379 appearances, including a club-record 220 league goals, between 1961 and 1970.
Greaves also scored 44 goals in 57 appearances for his country, including six hat-tricks, the most by any England player.
“I’m deeply honoured to receive this recognition for services to football from Her Majesty The Queen,” Greaves said.
“Football has been my life, from the day I started kicking a ball around as a kid at home in Essex, to signing for Chelsea at 15, then to Milan, those wonderful nine years at Spurs, then West Ham and, later, my work in television and the media.
“There have been highs and lows, but it’s a game I will always love and will always be part of me. I’d like to dedicate this award to Irene, my family and friends. Thanks for all your love and support.”
Former Wolves midfielder Ron Flowers joins Greaves, as they become the last surviving members of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad to be honoured.
Flowers did not feature during the tournament but enjoyed a successful club and international career, scoring 10 times in 49 appearances for England, who he captained on three occasions.
Burrow ‘humbled’ by New Year Honour
Former Leeds Rhinos star Rob Burrow, who is battling motor neurone disease (MND) after being diagnosed in December last year, also receives an MBE.
Burrow was part of eight Super League Grand Final triumphs, two Challenge Cup wins, three World Club Challenge successes and is in an elite group of players to have won the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice.
“It is truly humbling to be awarded an MBE and I would like to thank everyone who has made this possible,” said Burrow.
“2020 has taught us all to appreciate the gifts we have and it is my honour and privilege to accept this award on behalf of all the MND community.
“I hope it gives people hope that we are not ignored and the drive for more research and support to end MND will not stop.
“I would like to thank my team-mates, coaches and opponents throughout my playing career. They shaped me into the man I am.
“The way the rugby league community has come together over the last 12 months to support me and my family speaks volumes about how special our sport is.
“Finally, I would like to thank my family. I know they have always been proud of me. This MBE is for them and I am looking forward to making another special memory when I am able to receive the award.”
Barry Hearn ‘proud’ at OBE award
Barry Hearn, chairman of the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and Matchroom Sport, is among those awarded an OBE, while the chairman of football’s National League Brian Barwick receives the same award.
Hearn said: “I’m incredibly proud to have been awarded an OBE. It has been a great joy to be involved in such a wide range of sports for over 40 years, and to be recognised for that work is an honour.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the greatest players ever to play in their sport from Steve Davis to Phil Taylor to Chris Eubank, and I’ve got so many wonderful memories.
“Alongside those elite players though, I’ve always tried to create pathways and opportunities for people to reach the very top of their chosen sport and change their life in the process.”
Woodhouse: I thought it was a prank email
Curtis Woodhouse, who played professional football for Sheffield United and Birmingham City before switching to boxing and becoming British light-welterweight champion, receives the British Empire Medal.
Woodhouse, who manages non-league side Gainsborough Trinity, told Sky Sports News: “It came as a little bit of a surprise, but I’m honoured and proud.
“I got an email, and the last few months I’ve had nothing but dodgy emails so I kind of thought it was another one of those. I was expecting to be asked for my sort code and bank account details.
“I’m still a little bit shell-shocked. I still don’t quite believe it’s happened.”
Woodhouse plans to take his family with him to a reception at Buckingham Palace and is looking forward to the occasion.
“We don’t get out of Yorkshire very often, so it’ll be great to get down to London and get the award.”
Three top horseracing administrators have been recognised, with Racecourse Association chairman Maggie Carver being awarded a CBE, outgoing British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nick Rust awarded an OBE and former Professional Jockeys Association chairman Nigel Payne made an MBE.
Elsewhere from the world of horse racing, Bob Champion, who won the 1981 Grand National on Aldaniti while recovering from cancer, has been awarded a CBE for his charitable work at the Bob Champion Cancer Trust.
Exeter Chiefs’ double-winning season was recognised with director of rugby Rob Baxter (OBE) and captain Joe Simmonds (MBE) both featuring on the list.
Matt Hampson, who was paralysed from the neck down during a training session with the England U21 rugby union team in 2005, has been recognised with an OBE for services to charity through his foundation which supports others who suffer catastrophic injuries in sport.
Damian Hopley, the chief executive of the Rugby Players Association, has been made an MBE.
Meanwhile, Gill Coultard, the first woman to win 100 senior England football caps, receives an MBE, as does former Wales international Alan Curtis, a former player and coach at Sky Bet Championship side Swansea.
Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup (formerly Fed Cup) tennis captain Anne Keothavong receives an MBE for services to her sport, as does John McGuinness, one of the most successful riders in the history of the Isle of Man TT motorcycle races.
Gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, from Newtownards in County Down, who became the first Irishman to win a world championship medal when he claimed bronze in the pommel horse in Stuttgart last year, receives the British Empire Medal.