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Anna Meares shows off her Oppy Medal
Olympic champion wins the Oppy Medal
Anna Meares was the queen of the Jayco 2012 Australian Cyclist of the Year Awards in Sydney, winning several trophies, including the prestigious Sir Hubert Opperman Medal for being named the 2012 Australian Cyclist of the Year.
There were a trio of men's category champions: Elite Road Cyclist of the Year went to Simon Gerrans, Elite BMX Cyclist of the Year to Sam Willoughby and Elite Para-cyclist of the Year to Michael Gallagher. These three were also finalists for the Opperman Medal but Meares was a popular winner.
The 29-year-old was crowned Olympic, World and Australian Champion. It's the second time Meares has claimed the Opperman Medal, the first time was in 2008. She also won the People's Choice trophy for the third time, polling ahead of finalists Simon Gerrans, Sam Willoughby, Cadel Evans and Rachel Neylan.
Neylan was named the Elite Female Road Cyclist of the Year Award. Completing her sweep of accolades, Meares was also named the Elite Female Track Cyclist of the Year for the eighth time in nine years.
The awards were presented at a black tie gala in Sydney and honoured the achievements of a host of Australian cycling stars on the track, road, mountain bike and BMX in categories ranging from juniors to masters aged over 60.
“A few months ago I stood in a similar position being presented with a very special gold medal and that gold medal has a very long journey," said Meares, referring to her 2012 London Olympics Games sprint gold medal which she won over Great Britain's Victoria Pendleton.
“I started back in the days where I grew up, with all the sacrifices of my family and my sister Kerrie. It also started back at the last Olympic Games in 2008 after working through the accident and coming through with a silver medal."
“I was able to live a dream that I had spent the last 18 years trying to have happen. Through three Olympic Games, I won bronze in Athens in the sprint, silver in Beijing, I can tell you I am so proud to be able to say I am now the Olympic Sprint champion."
Meares revealed she has her sights on a fourth Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but will take a break before starting serious training.
“I would like to continue on for another four years through to Rio and the next Olympic campaign, but you won’t see me until next year as I will be taking a nice break," Meares explained. "And in that break, this Olympic champion is looking forward to wearing my trackies around the house, gardening, walking my dog and annoying my husband."
Omnium World Champion, Glenn O'Shea picked up the elite male track award for the first time, while world ranked number one Caroline Buchanan nabbed the elite female BMX title for the fourth straight year. In the elite mountain bike category 24hr solo marathon world champion, Jason English took the men's while London Olympian Rebecca Henderson secured the women's award. The women's Para-cycling award was shared by Paralympic Games winning tandem pair Felicity Johnson and pilot Stephanie Morton.
Junior track star Taylah Jennings was named the Junior Cyclist of the Year and Geoff Stoker the Masters Cyclist of the Year.
Victorian Hilton Clarke was presented with the Coaching Award for the second year in a row while National Track Sprint Coach, Gary West, accepted the Coaching Program Award on behalf of the Cycling Australia / AIS Track Sprint High Performance Program.