Katie Archibald column: Accepting an MBE is not an easy decision

“I said it wasn’t a medal from a palace that I dream of when I raced my bike, that it felt like a social rating and a hierarchy that I didn’t want to involve myself in”

Katie Archibald

Olympic and world champion, Katie Archibald got into cycling after winning handicap races on a Highland Games grass track. She writes a column for Cycling Weekly each week

I have an MBE. Actually I guess “I am an MBE” is the proper wording. I don’t say the sentence often; it embarrasses me a bit. But the letters are there after my name and I have the necklace and certificate and the like.

Before being offered an MBE (in my case for services to sport) you get sent a letter asking whether you would accept such a thing were it offered. This came along after the Rio Olympics, like a bonus cheque where the currency is your social stature. I ignored the letter for a long time, fairly indifferent. This was rude.

Since I didn’t respond, the palace (or more likely someone working in a slightly less elaborate building, but one with cornices and gargoyles nonetheless) contacted an agency I’m attached to. Now a third party, a party with my email address, knew about the letter and I had to reply.

It took me a further couple of weeks to decide what that reply would be.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGC6TGs1Ps0

During that time I had dinner at my mum’s house. How she knew to pose the question remains a mystery, but she asked whether to expect my name on the New Year Honours list.

I explained the letter and that I was going to decline the offer of an offer. I said it wasn’t a medal from a palace that I dream of when I raced my bike, that it felt like a social rating and a hierarchy that I didn’t want to involve myself in.

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Boy did I get a telling. “Any publicity is good publicity, is it? Get your name in the newspapers for turning down an honour, make a big show of yourself, eh? Make sure everyone else feels stupid?”

I quickly resolved to believe her: it would be disrespectful to decline. I wrote to the palace and said I would accept.

I hadn’t consulted my dad on the matter. He found out when he read my name listed in the newspaper, and sent me a text: “See you’re an MBE now. You can only sell your soul once you know. Pa x.”

Nigel Wynn
Nigel Wynn

Nigel Wynn worked as associate editor on CyclingWeekly.com, he worked almost single-handedly on the Cycling Weekly website in its early days. His passion for cycling, his writing and his creativity, as well as his hard work and dedication, were the original driving force behind the website’s success. Without him, CyclingWeekly.com would certainly not exist on the size and scale that it enjoys today. Nigel sadly passed away, following a brave battle with a cancer-related illness, in 2018. He was a highly valued colleague, and more importantly, n exceptional person to work with - his presence is sorely missed.