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Meares to target Rio Olympics

10 November 2012

Australian track cycling star Anna Meares has confirmed that she is aiming for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Meares made the announcement in Sydney when she accepted her second "Oppy" medal as Australian cyclist of the year.

Until now, the 29-year-old had been guarded on whether she would embark on another Olympics campaign or retire.

Meares is having a well-earnt sabbatical and she plans to return to training on January 2.

She has not trained seriously since the London Olympics, where Meares took over from British arch-rival Victoria Pendleton as the queen of women's track cycling.

Meares beat Pendleton to win the sprint gold medal.

The length of her post-Games break means she will not be ready for international competition until well into next year, putting her out of contention for the world track titles.

"I would like to continue on for the next Olympic campaign," she said.

"But you won't see me until next year because I will be taking a nice break.

"In that break, this Olympic champion is just looking forward to just wearing my trackies around the house, gardening, walking the dog and annoying my husband."

Meares, one of Australian cycling's most popular figures, received standing ovations at the start and end of her acceptance speech for the "Oppy", or Sir Hubert Opperman Medal.
She cleaned up at the awards, also winning the people's choice and women's track categories.

The other finalists for the Sir Hupert Opperman Medal, known as the Oppy, were Simon Gerrans, Sam Willoughby and Michael Gallagher.

Gerrans took out the men's road cycling category as Willoughby won the men's BMX award and Gallagher was named the top men's elite paracyclist.

Glenn O'Shea won the men's track award and Rachel Neylan was awarded the women's road section.

The women's BMX category went to Caroline Buchanan as Jason English and Rebecca Henderson won the elite mountain bike awards.

Meares won the people's choice award for the third time ahead of Gerrans, Willoughby, Neylan and Cadel Evans.

It was her second "Oppy" after also taking out the prestigious award in 2008.

In a tearful speech, Meares reflected on a massive year where she overcame intense pressure to win her second Olympic gold medal.

She also combined with Kaarle McCulloch to win Olympic bronze in the team sprint.

Adding to the lustre of her sprint gold medal, it came only a few days after Meares produced the worst ride of her outstanding international career to finish out of the medals in the keirin final.

Meares and coach Gary West had to work quickly after that disaster to repair her morale and mindset.

She noted that the win came after a bronze in the sprint at the 2004 Olympics and then silver in the event at the 2008 Beijing Games.

"I was able to (realise) a dream I'd spent the last 18 years trying to have happen," she said.

"I am so proud that I can now say that I'm the Olympic sprint champion."

Roger Vaughan

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