After winning three gold medals at the UCI Track World Championships in March, Australian sprinter Anna Meares has written about her experiences of the event, and how it feels to finally be crowned sprint world champion, breaking the domination of Britain's Victoria Pendleton.
On her blog at www.annameares.com.au she describes the atmosphere at the Dutch velodrome, and how her three days of racing played out. Although she was the 2010 Track World Champion in the 500m time trial, she had decided not to defend her title, to focus on the three Olympic sprint events. When it came to the sprint, she and Kaarle McCulloch had already retained their World Team Sprint title, and she easily passed through the early rounds of the sprint, until she came to the semi-finals, racing against Pendleton, the World Champion since 2007.
"I knew I had to be on from the very get go. Race one saw Vicky leading and me following, I jumped and made my move as the bend straightened towards the back straight. I found myself moving very quickly past Victoria and before I knew it I had my whole bike in front of her and crossed the line. I was one up. But I wasn't getting confident. The job wasn't done and I was up against one of the toughest sprint opponents possible."
"Race Two and I led out giving Vicky the perfect set up for her style of racing. What was I thinking? I don't know, but it saw her take the win to make it one a piece, and we were headed for a decider.
"Race 3 and all eyes were on the velodrome as we rolled out. The nerves were ever-present, the desire and emotion simmering in my stomach and my heart. Oh I wanted this win and I wanted it so badly.
"With 1.25 laps to go I saw a chance to pin Vicky on the fence; something that I haven't been able to do in years against her. I sat there and held her high. Through the bell she was still on the fence but backing out of the position I had her in. When it looked like she had enough room to dive under, I dived for the sprint lane and then it was a mad dash to the line, where I held her off by half a bike length. I clenched my fist and said to myself, yep you did it. You're into the final! ‘Bout bloody time!"
She continues to describe her races in the final against Simona Krupeckaite, and how it felt to beat the Lithuanian, and win her first even Sprint gold medal:
"In that moment I had become the first Australian female to win a world sprint title… I had finally made the successful transition from time trial rider to sprinter. I had let go of what I knew I was good at and spent time after time working on something I wasn't so good at, and in the end, after all the toils and pain and struggles and sacrifice, I finally had achieved it. World Sprint Champion."
With two gold medals under her belt, she entered the final event of the championships, the keirin, in fine form, and relates her strategies and tactics – and how it felt when she won the final, knowing she was entering the track history books – and setting herself in the perfect position for contesting the three sprint events in the 2012 Olympic Games.
"I feel privileged to be a part of a sport evolving for the better for women's participation, and I hope I can leave it better for those who follow in generations to come, but most of all I feel well and truly satisfied and pleased for having achieved my goals and more. Now it's time to set the bar higher and keep on dreaming, for the next 15 months are big and busy, so stay tuned."