The West

Meares steers Australia to golden start
Meares steers Australia to golden start at Glasgow. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

On Wednesday night she led Australia into the 20th Commonwealth Games.

Less than 24 hours later Anna Meares opened the green and gold medal rush with another blazing performance on her bicycle.

Meares became the first to sing Advance Australia Fair after winning the women’s 500m time trial at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

And a few minutes later it was the men’s turn on the podium as Jack Bobridge, Luke Davison, Alex Edmondson and Glenn O’Shea defeated an England team backed by Sir Bradley Wiggins to claim the 4km team pursuit.

Meares has a trophy cabinet lined with gold from her 17 years as a competitive ride. But the honours keep coming.

She carried the national flag at the opening ceremony and clocked a Games record as her 33.435sec. performance pushed teammate Stephanie Morton (34.079) into silver medal position.

As a bonus the latest victory gave Meares a fifth gold medal to lift her above Kathy Watt (four gold medals) as Australia’s most successful female cyclist in Commonwealth Games history. It also put her on the same total of wins as another compatriot, Bradley McGee.

The 29-year-old paid tribute to Watt, who became the catalyst for Meares to put feet on the pedal after watching her succeed at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

“How nice a circle it is to 20 years ago being inspired by her to start riding and equal her representations and pass her with the gold medals tonight,” Meares said.

“I’m sure she will be very proud.”

Anna Meares wins the 500m time trial at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

There was immense pressure on Meares in this race. While her Olympic and world championships conquests meant she had the qualities to succeed, she also had to come down and focus on the wood after such an emotional experience with the flag the night before.

Meares stayed at the athletes’ village during the morning events to relax before her ride.
“I wanted to come here and have fun. And worrying about expectations and what everybody else thought wasn’t going to be conducive to that,” Meares said.

“I think last night, separate to this ride, will be definitely be one of the biggest highlights of my career.

“There are some snaphsots in my mind that will stay forever. And there will be some magnificent pictures going up on the wall at home.”

The men’s pursuit team also set the Games record as they got close enough to catch their English rivals.

It vindicated Bobridge’s decision to return to the velodrome. He abandoned the track after the London Olympics to concentrate on road racing.

But he knew he was capable of a successful comeback because he won the gold medal in the same event at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games four years earlier.

The West Australian

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