All those who know Anna Meares were convinced that she could never imagine leaving the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne without a victory under her belt. After being beaten in the Team Sprint and then in the Individual Sprint, Anna wanted at all costs to reward the audience in the Hisense Arena for their unflagging and enthusiastic support. The gold medal in the Keirin â€“ the ninth of her career and the second consecutive in this specialty â€“ was a symbol of her success in what was undoubtedly a big challenge from a personal point of view. â€śIâ€™m delighted by this resultâ€ť she declared, before going up on the podium with the Russian Ekaterina Gnidenko and the German Kristina Vogel, â€śbecause I really appreciated the encouragement I received from the crowd, in spite of the defeats on the preceding days. Yesterday was of course a disappointment, but thatâ€™s all forgotten with this win.â€ť Will the Olympic Games constitute the next step of an exceptional season? â€śYes, the best moments are still to come,â€ť she added, â€śand now I will be able to face them serenely. If I had to choose a medal to win, it would be the Team Sprint, or perhaps the Individual Sprint.â€ť
With Victoria Pendleton, victorious in the Sprint, competing against Anna Meares, World Champion in the Keirin, the London event will witness the epilogue of a rivalry that has lasted almost ten years!
The penultimate evening of the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Championships brought additional satisfaction for Australia, which won the Menâ€™s Individual Pursuit. Michael Hepburn won through against the title holder Jack Bobridge, thanks to his performance in the last kilometre. The â€śCyclonesâ€ť could have completely dominated the trial if the New Zealander Westley Gough hadnâ€™t won the final for third place against Rohan Dennis.
However, the real tour de force of the day was provided by Cameron Meyer, who set the velodrome stands alight in the final phase of the race for points. The initiative he took to get in front of his adversaries â€“ finishing ahead of the British rider Ben Swift and the Belgian Kenny De Ketele â€“ will long be regarded as one of the best in the history of this specialty. Meyerâ€™s first utterance after the race: â€śMy legs actually won me this victory, but it was my head that convinced me that it was possible â€“ the crowd did the rest, and I would like to thank everyone concerned.â€ť
These three victories enabled Australia to get back to the top of the eventâ€™s medal tables, as Great Britain won just one gold medal through Laura Trott â€“ of the Team Pursuit â€“ in the Omnium. At only 19 years old, which makes her by far the youngest athlete crowned during these World Championships, she finished in front of the Australian Annette Edmondson and the American Sarah Hammer.
The most intense evening since the beginning of the event closed with the Menâ€™s Sprint final. GrĂ©gory BaugĂ©, World Champion in 2009 and 2010 and disqualified after his win in Apeldoorn in 2011, confirmed his supremacy in this specialty. â€śMy reflexes had already served me well in London in February. Here in Melbourne Iâ€™ve made more progress, and this win will enable me to go into the Olympic Games with a lot of confidenceâ€ť declared BaugĂ©, who beat the title holder Jason Keeny.
This time, Chris Hoy had to be happy with the bronze medal â€“ but tomorrow, in the Keirin, it could be very different!