Home town favourite and Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games champion, Anna Meares (Australia) has declared today that she is ‘very proud’ of the way she races and will bring her trademark style to competition at next week’s 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Melbourne (Australia), Home town favourite and Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games champion, Anna Meares (Australia) has declared today that she is ‘very proud’ of the way she races and will bring her trademark style to competition at next week’s 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Anna (right) getting the better of Victoria Pendleton in London.
The vow comes after a statement by British world and Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton earlier this week that Meares ‘pushed the rules’. After arriving in Melbourne this morning for the championships which get underway next Wednesday, Meares said that is it part of sport at the highest level to push the boundaries. “I am very proud of the way that I ride,” Meares said. “I have so many people come up to me and tell me how exciting it is to watch me in a sprint match.”
Meares went on to explain the nature of sprinting and the need to push the limits to achieve the ultimate result, a fact she knows all too well after a serious crash in 2008 that left her with a broken neck. “I think it is fair to say that all sports people push the limits, myself included. I like to push the limits in training, I like to push my own limits and challenge myself to see what I am capable of doing.”
“Everyone brings to the table in sprinting a very different strength set and a very different weakness set and this is where the clashing occurs in the individual sprint because everyone is trying to control the race to suit their own strength and weaknesses. This is where movement comes in to it, where tactics comes into it and this is where strategy and racing plans come into it.”
“As a sprinter, we push the limits in terms of being strong, push the limits in being powerful, we push the limits on the tactics that we employ, the skill level that we try to attain on the track and yes sometimes the lines get crossed and the people who make the judgment on that are the commissaires.”
“You could probably look at 95% of the field and they have had a talking to by the commassaires and that’s their job.”
Anna pinning Victoria to the fence to control her race rather than be the one who is riding the other rider’s race.
Meares, who will compete in the three Olympic sprint events – the Team Sprint, Individual Sprint and Keirin – as well as the 500m time trial at next week’s World Championships, described the difficulty rivalry creates to the development of friendships.
“The rivalry is a rivalry, and it’s a great one between Victoria and I,” Meares said.
We meet when we are in good form and that is always generally in the semis or the finals and when we race each other, we literally turn each other inside out.”
“Sometimes with great rivalries, you can’t have a great friendship because there is so much riding on the line for those involved. It’s an uncomfortable situation to try and be able to switch off and open yourself up to that person when you do need to beat them on the track.”
“I have had great experience in that environment with my sister Kerrie and the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life is learn to switch off to defeat my own sister and I take lessons from that experience with my sister and apply that with Victoria.”
Anna in tears after winning her first world title with sister Kerrie
“Sometimes it is easier to just be competitors and perhaps it is going to be a case for Victoria and I to wait until we have retired and see where it goes from there.”
The World Championships sees the return of Meares to the venue in which her highly successful international career began. “Melbourne and Hisense Arena, to me, has a very special place in my heart, especially with the history of my career,” she said. “It started here in 2004 when I was a young 20-year-old and I won my first World Championship in the 500m time trial.”
Originally from Queensland, Meares will dedicate her 500m time trial ride on Sunday evening to Ken Tucker – the man who uncovered her talent as a child. “This year I would like to dedicate my ride to Ken Tucker (father of sprinter Kenrick), my very first coach from Queensland. This is a man who saw in me a talent that not many other people did.”
“I dedicate this to him, and he will be here to watch me race which is very special.”
That first World title in Melbourne in 2004. Will Anna repeat that in Melbourne with more rainbow jerseys? Next week we’ll find out.