Olympic cycling star Sir Bradley Wiggins said he felt “liberated” after revealing he was sexually abused by his coach between the ages of 13 and 16.
While supporting an NSPCC campaign to identify victims of child sex abuse, the Tour de France winner spoke bravely about being groomed, getting over cycling and why he wouldn’t change his past.
The five-time Olympic gold medalist, 42, achieved his lifelong dream in 2012 by becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France.
But alongside the pressure that followed to repeat his success – and an injury that dashed his ambitions – Wiggins realized that cycling was actually a form of escape after being sexually abused by his coach as a teenager.
Olympic cycling star Sir Bradley Wiggins said he felt “liberated” after revealing he was sexually abused by his coach between the ages of 13 and 16
Wiggins told Britain’s Men’s Health magazine: “I was groomed by a trainer when I was younger – I was about 13 – and I never fully accepted that.”
After Wiggins made the revelation he was being groomed in an interview with Men’s Health columnist and former Labor spin doctor Alastair Campbell last year, a change began in him.
Speaking to the Express, the athlete said: “I feel liberated…which is a nice feeling.”
The father-of-three made the decision to speak out more about his experiences of caring as he leads a new NSPCC campaign to help people spot the signs of child abuse.
Listen Up, Speak Up challenges adults to complete a 10-minute online tutorial so they understand how and when to raise the alarm if they believe a child is being harmed.
The charity reported a 14 percent increase in calls to its helpline from adults about sexual abuse concerns.
Wiggins spent much of his life coming to terms with his relationship with his father, Australian cyclist Gary Wiggins, who abandoned the family when Bradley was young and who died in 2008 after a fight
“If someone had told me after I quit horseback riding that in a few years that’s what you would be doing instead of game shows and TV, I wouldn’t have believed them,” Wiggins revealed.
“It’s funny how things are going and a lot of it has to do with where you are in your life. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done because it’s such a humbling issue for me and for so many people – and also a tragedy.”
Discussing whether he’s sought therapy to ease his trauma, Wiggins said: “No, I’m my own therapist, nobody knows what’s going on in my head.
“I’m not quite there yet – I would be open to it, very much so.”
The exact details of what Wiggins suffered remain unclear because, like many victims of trauma, the star “locked it out of his mind.”
“It has to do with recall,” he said. “It’s coming out slowly. I can’t even tell you how many times it’s happened to me. I can only remember parts of it.’
A photograph of a young Bradley Wiggins. From Wiggins autobiography Bradley Wiggins: In Search of Fame
Wiggins was shocked last year to discover that one of his former coaches, Sean Bannister, told a newspaper that Wiggins had “always had reservations” about another coach.
Up to that point, Wiggins said he had no clear memory of asking an adult for help.
“It was harder to take than to talk about it [the abuse]’ he said, ‘that I was trying to tell someone. I didn’t know I had it.”
The abuse began after Wiggins discovered cycling at the age of 12. He had watched Chris Boardman win gold in the singles at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics on TV and was inspired to follow in his footsteps.
Sir Bradley Wiggins (left) with son Ben Wiggins on day one of the HSBC UK National Track Championships at the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome, Newport
His father, absent throughout childhood, was six- and seven-day racer Gary Wiggins, who died from head injuries believed to have been violently inflicted after leaving a party in his native Australia in 2008.
Wiggins first revealed his abuse to the world, telling Men’s Health UK magazine: “I was groomed by a trainer when I was younger – I was about 13 – and I never fully accepted that.”
The NSPCC is the leading children’s charity working to end child abuse in the UK.
If adults are concerned about children, they can seek advice from NSPCC practitioners on 0808 800 5000 or email@example.com
When asked if he was sexually groomed, Wiggins added: “Yes. It all affected me as an adult… I buried it. My stepdad was pretty violent to me, he used to call me “af*t” for wearing lycra and stuff so I didn’t think I could tell him.
“I was such a loner … I just wanted to get out of the environment. I’ve been so isolated. I was a pretty odd teenager in many ways, and I think propulsion on a bike comes from adversity.
In his 2008 autobiography, In Pursuit of Glory, Wiggins wrote about how his mother Linda’s new partner, Brendan, became his “quasi-stepdad” when he was a teenager and was “totally supportive.”
Wiggins previously spoke about suffering from depression and his difficult childhood.
He added that he spent much of his life trying to understand his relationship with his father, who abandoned the family when Wiggins was young.
However, the athlete believes that had he enjoyed a happy, stable upbringing, he would not have achieved his remarkable success.
“I wouldn’t change anything,” he said. “What matters when these things happen to you is what you do next. And as much legacy I left behind in cycling, what I do now over the next 20 years is just as important.”
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11634991/Sir-Bradley-Wiggins-says-feels-liberated-revealing-sexually-abused-coach.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Sir Bradley Wiggins says he feels “liberated” after revealing he was sexually abused by his coach