Anna Meares never ceases to amaze and never more so than with her Gold medal win last night in the women’s sprint. Great Britain’s Victoria Pendleton seemed to many as almost a shoe-in to claim the Olympic title with her form in the London Games, but Meares managed to show a fighting spirit that has reflected her career by beating her when no one except her coach gave her a chance.
In 2008 Meares made an astonishing come back from terrible cycling accident at the World Cup when she broke her neck. Incredibly she fought her way back and qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and made the sprint final only to lose to Pendleton. On that occasion the mere fact she made the final and was still racing was close to miraculous.
This time around after their first race the scoreboard announced Pendleton as winner. Minutes later Australian and British coaches gathered around the judges and the result was reversed.Pendleton had committed an illegal move, veering out of the sprinters lane after Meares had claimed that territory.
It was it transpires always Meares and coach Gary West’s intention to strike in race two. Pendleton and Meares slowly and tactically cycled around the velodrome for their second lap. Meares was in the lead and then the Australian took them high up on the slope. With both riders close to the railing Meares opted to hold them stationary. Pendleton managed to hold for a few seconds that no doubt felt like minutes, before her legs started to feel the pain and forced her to pushed ahead. She had fallen into Meares’ trap.
With Pendleton now where she wanted her, despite the crowd urging the Brit on, Meares had won control of the race and she crossed the line first to claim Gold. The roles had been reversed since Beijing, and Pendleton in her last race was gracious in defeat.
Meares was quoted as saying after the race “Victoria is a phenomenal athlete from the rear position, she has just such fantastic top-end speed, I just had to force her to the front and perhaps make her question her ability to be able to hold me off. That was my game plan the whole way. Weeks ago.” She also paid credit to Alex Bird who had played the role of Pendleton in training as she prepared for this one particular race.