For Geraint Thomas, being named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2018 hammered home the true influence of sport.
The 32-year-old, who became the third British rider to taste glory in the Tour de France in July, beat off competition from five other stars to be voted the toast of the nation.
Thomas beat off competition from Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and England footballer Harry Kane, who finished second and third respectively, as well as Dina Asher-Smith, a triple gold medallist at the European Athletics Championships, Lizzy Yarnold, Britain’s most decorated Winter Olympian, and England cricketer James Anderson.
Upon being named Sports Personality of the Year in Birmingham, Thomas says that the real prize has been seeing the impact his success has had upon the public.
“I feel really to have come into cycling at the time I did, be the age I am,” said the cycling star, who became the first Welshman to win the award since Ryan Giggs in 2009.
“I was just going down the local leisure centre going for a swim and ended up riding my bike.
“It’s just insane – now I’m stood here.
“I’ve got so many people to thank. Obviously, my wife, Sara; it’s just as much for her as it is for me because she puts up with a hell of a lot – trust me.
“There’s definitely some tough times but she’s always there, picks me up, and I’m just really lucky to have her and my parents and everyone else in my family
“As a bike rider, I was always focused on myself. People want me to win and they get happy but hearing stories like Tyson [Fury] and Billy [Monger, winner of the Helen Rollason award], you actually realise that what we do does inspire people back home.
“And to see so many people enjoying riding a bike and having a healthy lifestyle – you can take just as much pride in that as winning something like this.”
Thomas added: “I’ve got to thank my team. Cycling’s a team sport, which a lot of people don’t realise at first.
“I take a lot of pride in representing Britain and Wales abroad whenever I’m racing.
“It’s been an amazing year for British sport and long may it continue.”