Australian National Track Championships
Dunc Gray Velodrome, Sydney - Sprint Finals & Pursuit
Sprint - Kerrie upsets sister Anna's dream of clean sweep & 3 year run at gold
2002 Commonwealth Games champion Kerrie Meares tonight upstaged her Olympic Champion sister, Anna, to reclaim the sprint crown she last won at the Australian Championships in 2003 and which has been in Anna's hands since then.
Kerrie, who struggled with a hamstring tear in the lead up to the Championships, had qualified second fastest for the sprint but was more than four tenths of a second slower than Anna, who posted her fastest flying 200 metre time since Athens. But when it came down to the final match race Kerrie outfoxed her younger sibling using her head to nullify the speed advantage and put paid to Anna's hopes of a clean sweep of Championship's gold medals in her four chosen events.
"Unfortunately I had a hamstring tear a week outside of nationals so I wasn't able to train but I've been working really hard (on tactics) with (2002 Sprint World Champion) Sean Eadie for the few days leading up to the competition and the work we did together was all I was thinking about out there," said an elated Kerrie. "She's an Olympic Champion and it certainly lifts my spirits up and things are really working out for me now after a long long time."
Was Kerrie happy to defeat her sister?
"What do you think," she laughed adding that it has been four years since she's done so but she doesn't plan to gloat too much. "We race each other that many times and we're very mature so we don't fight or pick on each other but we are a bit sarcastic and all. But we race each other all the time and we're still really good mates and sisters off the track and that's the way we want it to be to set an example for the up and coming juniors and other competitors."
Kerrie was forced to sit out most of 2004 due to a debilitating back injury which stymied her hopes of representing Australia at the Athens Olympic Games. She has struggled since then to regain her pre-injury form but is no hopeful of posting a qualifying time to earn selection for the World Championships where the women's teams sprint event will make it's debut.
"I'm literally hundredths of a second away from the qualifying time and the hamstring tear was quite a setback but I've got till 25th February to do it and I'm confident I can," said Kerrie. "Now that I'm breaking confidence barriers within myself I believe I can do that and Anna needs the fastest starter in Australia to win the gold at the Worlds and I want to be with her to do it."
For her part Anna was 'pretty ticked' at having Kerrie stop her dream run of gold medals.
"In the first one (heat) I saw the door really wide open down the back straight and made the decision to run into it and I wasn't too sure if she shut it too early or too late but it was pretty hairy, scarey round that bend," Anna explained. "I clipped the wheel and thought 'nuh' I'm not going to crash this close to worlds, I'll wait till the next one.
"I can be pretty stubborn and when I stuff it up on the first one I try to get it right in the next one and I got it right but I left too much distance but I can't really make any excuses I just got beat and I'm pretty upset about it but I'm not going to sit here and cry over it I'm going to go back and next year, it's on!
"It's one of these things where I end up making a mistake and next time I won't make that mistake but I'll make another mistake and I'm hoping I'm going to run out of mistakes and get it all right one day," Anna said. "If I stuff it up until Beijing and win in Beijing I'll be happy," said Anna vowing to go 'full pelt' in Sunday's keirin event in a bid to win her third gold of this week's Championships.
In the bronze medal final Kristine Bayley proved too strong for Tasmanian Laura McCaughey winning in two straight rides.
Pursuit - No upset for Katie Mactier
There was no upset in the women's 3km individual pursuit where Commonwealth Games champion, Olympic silver medallist and 2005 World Champion Katie Mactier entered as odds on favourite and didn't disappoint. The Victorian qualified in 3min34.500sec, well outside her own Australian record time of 3min27.65, but ten seconds clear of Amanda Spratt (NSW) who faced her in the gold medal ride. The disparity was clear in the final where Mactier overtook Spratt with three laps remaining of the scheduled 12 laps to end the race and claim her fourth Australian pursuit crown. The bronze medal was awarded to Monique Hanley of Victoria.
"It's always special when I win a pursuit; it's my passion and we're still six weeks away from Worlds (Championships in Spain at the end of March) so hopefully there's room for improvement because I haven't really done a very extensive track lead up into this but I'm very satisfied with where I'm at," said Mactier who will now step into a National Track Training Camp in Adelaide. "I love it! I would hate to be in another country because I feel we have such an intense program that's guaranteed to work.
"We all get results, we all get pb's (personal best times) and there's no mucking around it's hard arduous kilometres but it works so you feel confident going in," she said. "It's a month of just slogging our guts out."
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