Happy was the word of choice by Anna Meares (Australia) after she rode to silver in the Keirin on day two of the Track World Championships. Meares was unable to defend her title from 12 months ago after a powerful ride from Germany's Kristina Vogel, but, with the Olympic Games coming into view, she took a silver-lining approach to her outlook.
"I'm really happy with my semi-final ride and I'm happy with my final ride," Meares told the press in the track centre. "A lot of people say, 'Oh it's the silver and not the gold', but I'm looking at the processes, the way I move, the decisions that I made and the way I rode the race. I'm pleased with that, considering where we've come into this competition and targeting Rio. I'm very happy.
"When the door opened with a few metres to go I was licking my lips but I just couldn't get off the wheel. Kristina was very strong. I love good hard racing as well. You put everything out there and you don't win, you still enjoy the race and I really enjoyed it out there tonight."
Meares had a challenging first round ride, finishing third after Ekaterina Gnidenko (Russia) moved into the sprinter's line when Meares was already in it. Meares made her annoyance clear in the immediate aftermath and the Russian was later relegated, allowing Meares to make it into the second round without the need for the repechage. She would go on to win her heat in the second round.
"I don't mind a bit of close racing and a bit of argy-bargy, I had to change my skinsuit after the first heat," Meares was able to laugh about the incident with the silver medal around her neck.
It has not been an easy road to the World Championships for Meares, with back problems plaguing her for much of last year. She came back with a bang in February, taking three titles at the national championships. Meares believes that she's yet to return to her best and is hoping for an injury-free summer to set her up nicely ahead of the Olympic Games.
"[It] had a big effect on the training that I could do leading into this. I've had to go backwards to go forwards again. I'm probably about 90 to 95 per cent in this tournament so I'm happy that I've got room to move and improve by the time that I get to Rio and that is what is important for me," said Meares.
With the pedigree that she comes with, Meares' place in the Olympic squad seems like it should be a certainty. She assures the press that this is not the case with Stephanie Morton and Kaarle McCulloch both snapping at her heals. Meares likes a challenge, though, and it is one that she is relishing in the coming months.
"I'm excited about going forward but I have to continue to work hard and those two girls, Kaarle and Steph are doing the same thing," Meares said. "It's a positive environment but it is tough. I didn't know that I was going to get the team sprint start until the day before because we were going through trials and comparing the data.
"There are no free rides, it's fair across the board and you have to be the best to get the ride."
Meares will not ride in the 500-metre time trial, with McCulloch set to take her place in the starting line-up. Instead, her next event will be the individual sprint where she will be hoping to add to her title from 2011.
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