Olympic Champion, World Record Holder
Anna Meares is the World Champion, Athens Olympic Champion and World Record holder for the 500m time trial on the track. She has broken the 500m time trial World Record on three occasions; in taking the Athens crown in August 2004, in Sydney, Australia in November 2006 and then to take the World Championship title in Palma, Spain in March 2007. Anna married long-term boyfriend, Mark, in late 2006 but is still uses the surname "Meares", providing continuity of the name in the growing list of titles she is amassing.
Although the 500m TT event will not be part of the programme for the Beijing Olympics, Meares will no doubt be in action again for Australia, the talented speedster is also a force to be reckoned with in the keirin and sprint. A constant for Meares in terms of competition at the highest level is Britain's Victoria Pendleton - another multiple World Champion in recent years and also a sprinter and keirin rider. The pair are frequently matched against each other at the highest levels of competition.
Anna Meares recently agreed to answer some questions put to her by Suzanne Lawrence from WomensCycling.net. The pair were unable to meet up in person, by chance, Lawrence was in Beijing, the venue for the 2008 Olympics, whilst Meares was in Adelaide, Australia (the location of the training facility used by the Australian team).
The Interview >>
WCN : Having
read some of the interview notes and articles written about your performance
in Spain, in particular regarding the increase in gear, do you feel there is
scope to increase this and apply this power to the sprints
AM : We
have certainly learnt a valuable lesson. Not to think in a limited manner
and look more so outside the box (so to speak). I believe the fear of the
unknown was taken away by us unknowingly making a gearing mistake last
season and finding it to be quite beneficial. Gearing is something we are
looking at playing with for the sprint this coming season and I certainly
think it can only make me ride better.
WCN : Regarding the sprints what adjustments to your programme are you making to give you that illusive gold medal in that event?
AM : The biggest change and perhaps the hardest one is no longer considering or contemplating the time trial; an event I have been successful in. I am no longer a time triallist, I am a sprinter. With this change in role comes a lot of other changes.... Mental approach, tactical, training and the process of preparation. Emphasis on power and speed of course, but I guess also being comfortable on the track and in the role as a sprinter.
WCN : Do you feel that Vicky Pendleton's dominance on the track shown in Spain is achievable in an Olympic year?
AM : Vicky
Pendleton's performance in Spain was definitely amazing and a credit to her
and her coach. I believe she will be going out to maintain her position and
everyone else in the world including myself will be going out
The Olympic year, I believe, is going to be a tough challenge as all riders need to be somewhat race fit throughout the season to stay in the World Cup ranking of top 8 or higher to cement a spot at the Games. Rather than the usual; picking and choosing which event to peak for, riders really need to be at at least 75 percent of the meets and in good form. Throw in the World Titles and the Games and you have one long and tough season ahead.
WCN : Will you be competing at the World Cup event in Beijing in December to test out the new track?
AM : Absolutely I'll be there. I'd love an opportunity to ride on the Olympic track before 'D-Day', so to speak. I think there is going to be a large number of entrants for the Beijing leg of the World Cup [November 2007 - editor] for this very reason.
WCN : Do you believe Australian track cycling should be looking outside the sport to attract new female talent to the sport as the British have done?
AM : Cycling Australia has already been doing this in the past and it has proven successful. I also believe that our current Juniors are going to do a wonderful job when they get their chance to shine as well.
Cycling is a
tough sport to stay focused and dedicated to. It requires a lot of sacrifice
and commitment. I think that the loss of the 500m Time Trial from the
Olympic calendar has definitely deterred women from pursuing the sport
because of the lack of positions available. If a women's sprint event comes
back then I think you would see an increase in the participants of women's
WCN : What advice would you give to women interested in starting on the track for the first time?
AM : Look for your local cycling club. They can help you with a lot of information. Also, life is about enjoying yourself. Have fun with your cycling and don't place too much pressure on yourself. If you love what you do, then you will want to be committed and motivated to seeing yourself improve and succeed.
WCN : How do you balance married life with a hectic training schedule?
AM : My
lifestyle hasn't really changed from before we were married so it is
something that we have managed our entire relationship of 8 years. Mark has
a flexible job and we are fortunate to spend a lot of time together outside
of working hours. He travels when he can with me and if he can't I know he
is only a phone call away. He has been a cyclist and has experienced a lot
of things I experience now. We work well together and doing so we have a lot
of fun together as well. I don't think I am ever without a smile on my face
when he is around me... When two people love each other they make it work.
WCN : If
you could have been as talented in another sport other than cycling what
would it have been?
AM : Gee... Tough one. I probably would say Karate... I did it as a kid and loved it!
WCN : Anna, thank you for your time and all the best for the remainder of 2007 and into 2008
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