Aus­tralia’s Olympic cham­pion cy­clist Meares re­tires

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

AUS­TRALIA’S Anna Meares called time on her stel­lar cy­cling ca­reer yes­ter­day which at one stage threat­ened to leave her in a wheel­chair after she broke her neck in a hor­rific track crash eight years ago.

Meares has lived and com­peted in pain since the tum­ble in Los An­ge­les in Jan­uary 2008, only to fight back and win a medal at the Bei­jing Olympics just seven months later.

The six-time Olympic medal­list and 11-time world cham­pion an­nounced her an­tic­i­pated re­tire­ment from the track yes­ter­day at the age of 33 and just a cou­ple of months since claim­ing a bronze medal in the keirin event at the Rio Games.

The in­spi­ra­tional Aus­tralian also re­vealed that she needed six cor­ti­sone in­jec­tions in her spine just to com­pete in Rio.

“Hav­ing had to change tack for six months lead­ing into it [Rio] and to achieve the things I have, I feel sat­is­fied and happy to step aside from the sport and try some­thing new and dif­fer­ent,” Meares said. Meares’s in­domitable courage has been a by-word in the sport after she fought back from se­ri­ous in­jury when she frac­tured a neck ver­te­bra in the track crash in Los An­ge­les.

Later it was dis­cov­ered that if the crack in her ver­te­bra had been two mil­lime­tres longer, she could have been killed or left a quad­ri­plegic.

Yet she went from a wheel­chair to win­ning an Olympic sil­ver medal in the sprint in Bei­jing.

“I am re­ally proud I have stuck around for as long as I have,” she said.

“I have been chal­lenged ex­ten­sively through­out my ca­reer ... And I feel that I have grown with each ex­pe­ri­ence and they have left me a bet­ter ath­lete, a bet­ter per­son.”

Meares won six medals – two gold – at four Olympics and her record 11 world cham­pi­onship ti­tles among a ca­reer to­tal of 27 medals is the most all-time by a fe­male track cy­clist.

She is the only rider to wear rain­bow jer­seys in all four sprint dis­ci­plines.

Meares is also the only fe­male cy­clist to have posted world record times in all three timed sprint events for a ca­reer tally of eight records.

She was the first woman to break the 34 and 33-sec­ond bar­ri­ers in the 500m time trial.

A two-time Aus­tralian Cy­clist of the Year, Meares is one of only three Aus­tralians be­stowed with the hon­our of car­ry­ing the na­tional flag at both the Olympic and the Com­mon­wealth Games.

Cy­cling Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive Nick Green paid trib­ute to the ca­reer achieve­ments of Meares.

“Anna’s con­tri­bu­tion to the sport of cy­cling is im­mea­sur­able, and whether on or off the bike, Anna ex­em­pli­fied the ut­most pro­fes­sion­al­ism and re­spect for the sport and her peers,” Green said.

“Her re­sults at the Olympic, world cham­pi­onship and Com­mon­wealth level are sec­ond to none and is a trib­ute to her hard work, ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lence.

“Also the re­silience shown by Anna as she faced re­peated chal­lenges through­out her ca­reer epit­o­mised her strength of char­ac­ter and truly in­spired the na­tion.” –

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