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Page last updated at 10:04 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 11:04 UK

Brits to watch: Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins

By Martin Gough

Four years ago, Wiggins was one of Great Britain's stars in Athens, winning gold, silver and bronze medals. In Beijing, he could do better, aiming to convert the three world golds he won in March.

Wiggins competes in the same events as in Athens - individual pursuit, team pursuit and the 50km madison relay with young star Mark Cavendish.

Wiggins, who struggled after Athens to deal with his success, says: "It's only been in the last two years that I've grown up and actually realised what I want to achieve.

"That is to win three golds in Beijing then go to London in four years' time and win three more golds there."

FACTS & STATS

Born: 28 April 1980, Ghent, Belgium
Trains: Manchester
Career highlights: Three medals at 2004 Olympics - gold (individual pursuit), silver (team pursuit), bronze (madison); bronze medal at 2000 Olympics (team pursuit)

PATH TO THE PODIUM

2008 form: Wiggins was responsible for three of GB's nine golds at the World Track Championships in March and was part of the pursuit team - with Ed Clancy, Paul Manning and Geraint Thomas - that set a new world record of 3 min 56.322 secs in the 4,000m event.

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Highlights: Wiggins powers to pursuit gold

Rivals: Veteran Aussie Bradley McGee is expected to meet Wiggins in the final of the individual pursuit, as he did in Athens, although he suffered a broken collarbone earlier this year. In professional road racing the two used to be team-mates in the fdjeux.com squad.

How he could win: Wiggins is often down at the start but hangs on well through the middle of a race and his superiority normally tells by the end. It is as simple as that in the 1km individual pursuit.

In the team pursuit, he tends to ride third wheel - with the emphasis on four men riding as tightly together as possible. And in the 200-lap madison relay, he will do the work to launch Cavendish - the fastest man in the world - to the line at the finish.

What he says: "Sport is just sport, I've learnt that. I don't put any pressure on myself now because I know what I'm capable of doing out there. Four years ago I was a bloody head case at the Olympics. I was young and I thought I knew it all, when in fact I was just an emotional wreck."

What you say: "Wiggins has three real chances of gold, probably being favourite in the two pursuits which are far less of a chancy affair as the sprint."
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Sporting high: In 2004 he became the first British athlete since Mary Rand, 40 years previously, to win three medals at the same Games. "I'm finding it a bit hard to take in. This sort of thing happens to other people," he said at the time. He was awarded the OBE later that year.

Sporting low: Started the 2007 Tour de France on a high, coming fourth in the Prologue time trial in London, but was forced to pull out of the race after a Cofidis team-mate, Cristian Moreni, was found to have tested positive for testosterone. "This year's Tour has lost all credibility. It's null and void as far as I am concerned," he said.

In action: Individual pursuit: qualifying 15 Aug 0955 BST, first round 16 Aug 0930 BST, final 16 Aug 1155 BST;Team pursuit: qualifying 17 Aug, 0300 BST, first round 17 Aug 1115 BST, final 18 Aug 1120 BST; Madison: 19 Aug 1030 BST

AWAY FROM CYCLING

20-second profile: Bradley Wiggins

Life before sport: Not much. Wiggins was born in the cycling Mecca of Ghent, Belgium, where his father Gary was competing professionally. His parents split up and he moved to London but he started racing at south London's Herne Hill velodrome aged 12.

Hero worship: The 12-year-old Wiggins was inspired by Chris Boardman's Olympic pursuit gold in Barcelona in 1992. Afterwards, he says: "I wanted to do something with my life." Boardman acted as a mentor to Wiggins in Athens and is an advisor to the GB squad in Beijing.

Did you know? Wiggins loves old British films and does a passable impression of one of his favourite actors, Michael Caine.




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see also
Wiggins claims gold for Team GB
26 Mar 08 |  Cycling
Tour is null and void - Wiggins
27 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Wiggins wheels his way to history
31 Dec 04 |  Sport Homepage
Wiggins shocked by medal haul
25 Aug 04 |  Cycling
Boardman hails Wiggins
26 Aug 04 |  Cycling


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