Sprint Cyclists Touch Down in Town
Sprint cycling queen Anna Meares arrived in London yesterday, bubbling at the prospect of competing at her third Olympics.
“I am really excited,” she said. “This is only the second trip for me to London and actually it's warm this time around and I'm really looking forward to it.
“It’s my third Olympics and I'm really glad to be a part of it.”
Meares’ rivalry with Britain’s Victoria Pendleton is well documented, and even the customs officials at Heathrow Airport did not let her forget it.
“I had some jibes from the customs guys coming in, along the lines, ‘Welcome to London, hope you get second’.
“But, hey, I think it's fantastic. I think it's getting people interested in women's track sprint cycling, which is a first, and I think it's wonderful for our sport.”
At 28, Meares says she is no longer fazed by the pressure of the occasion and has developed a strategy to cope with most situations.
“I just pretend he crowd's always on my side and no matter where I go in the world I've got 6000 people cheering for me,” she said.
“I feel sorry for the person I race against (because) in my mind they (the spectators) are always in my corner.
“Kaarle's (McCulloch) in a good headspace as well. She's excited and a bit nervous like we all are. It's a big competition, the pinnacle of our sport. I think she'll do us proud, she'll do me proud.”
Jack Bobridge, the mainstay of Australia’s teams pursuit quartet, also arrived in London yesterday, and also talked up the men’s prospects.
“We’re happy with the training we've been doing, and happy as a team with where we are,” Bobridge said.
“We have come here with one objective, and that's to win. We are confident we can win; now it's just waiting and seeing what we can produce on the day.”
Australia was narrowly beaten by Great Britain at the world championships in Melbourne this year, and Bobridge said the team pursuit was hoping to avenge that loss.
“It has always been a good competition between Australia and Great Britain,” Bobridge said diplomatically. “But there are a few other countries to compete against, and I'm sure they'll post really good times.”
Bobridge was only 19 when he competed at his first Olympics in Beijing, but is now the elder statesman of the quartet at 23, with Glenn O’Shea, alongside Rohan Dennis, 22, Michael Hepburn, 20, and Alexander Edmonson, 18