Anna Meares became the first woman to break the 33-second barrier in the 500 metre time trial when she set a new world record en route to victory in the event at the UCI Track World Cup in Aguascalientes, Mexico on Friday.
The Australian scorched around the two laps of the track in a time of 32.836 seconds, which was enough to give her a comfortable victory in the event and saw her better her own record of 33.010, established at the world championships in Melbourne last year.
“I just wanted it, I wanted it really badly,” said Meares, who has regularly set the benchmark for the discipline over the course of her career. In winning gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004, for instance, the then 20-year-old Meares became the first woman to ride a sub-34 second 500 metre time trial
“It’s a huge milestone,” Meares said of her latest record, set at altitude in Mexico. “Not just for me, but for the sport. I knew that was going to be possible on this track because of the altitude, especially considering how close I got to that time at the Worlds in Melbourne in 2012.
“But I still appreciated it was going to be a hell of an effort, and I just had to make sure I got all of my technique right and do everything I could.”
Meares sat out last year’s World Cup after claiming gold in the individual sprint at the London 2012 Olympics, but the Australian was glad to be back in the winning habit in Mexico.
“It was very nerve racking because I appreciate the quality of the other women,” Meares said. “Obviously world champion Wai Sze Lee was very capable of riding a sub 33 time but it was hard to estimate what sort of times the others would post.”
In the event, it was Germany’s Miriam Welte who posted the second best time, 33.062, with Lee taking third place in 33.296.
Meares’ effort was not the only world record during Friday’s session as Frenchman François Pervis beat the flying 200 metres world record in qualifying for the men’s individual sprint. Pervis’s time of 9.347 bettered the previous mark (9.572) set by his fellow countryman Kevin Sireau in 2009.
“It’s the end of a process as part of the quest to become the fastest man in the world,” Pervis said, according to the French federation website. “This time is an accomplishment but also an enormous source of pride.”
Pervis was unable to match that 77kph ride in the later rounds of the individual sprint, however, and he had to settle for 6th place. Matthew Glaetzer (Australia) beat Jason Kenny (Great Britain) in the gold medal match.
It was a hugely successful day for the Australian team, who also took gold in the women’s pursuit through Rebecca Wiasak and in the men’s omnium through Luke Davison, who has signed with Synergy Baku team on the road for the 2014 season.
“I’m pretty elated,” Davison said. “It’s definitely one of my highlights in my track career, I’ve only been back focusing on the track for a year and targeting the omnium for six months so I’m pretty pleased with my results and improvement.”