Cunning plan worked a treat for Anna Meares

17:00, Aug 08 2012

With her body, and just as much with her mind, Australia's Anna Meares dethroned Britain's queen of cycling in front of the world at London's Olympic velodrome.

But the stunning move that sealed one of the great Olympic heists and Australia's third gold medal was nutted out three weeks earlier.

There would have been no more than a handful of witnesses at the Montichiari velodrome in Italy, but it was there, on the eve of the Games, that Meares and coach Gary West hatched the plan they believed would unravel the great Victoria Pendleton.

No matter how many times Pendleton beat Meares the Queenslander acknowledged in victory on Tuesday night she always believed she had the British champion's number on one point.

Not with pure speed, but in the battles of the mind - so critical in match sprinting. Meares has always believed she held the upper hand in that department.

And so it proved in devastating circumstances for Pendleton, in the last race of a brilliant career at her home Olympic Games.


The dream showdown for the women's sprint gold was set up swiftly after Pendleton and Meares required just two races each to dispose of their respective semifinal opponents.

Given the jawdropping speed Pendleton had displayed in six days of competition in London, many thought Meares was beaten regardless.

After their first race the scoreboard said as much when it showed Pendleton as winner of their incredibly tight, and physical, opening bout. Minutes later it was clear the provisional result was in question.

Australian and British coaches gathered around the judges' quarter and the result was promptly reversed after a video review clearly demonstrated Pendleton had committed the illegal move of veering into the sprinters' lane after Meares had claimed the territory.

It was always Meares' plan to pull out her big move in the second race and, with her tail up, she never felt more confident that it would work. When the pair snaked around the velodrome for their second lap, with Meares in the lead and ever so slowly setting the course, the Australian took them high up the slope.

With the railing separating the crowd from the riders within arm's reach Meares held them stationary. Pendleton clearly didn't like it, but for a few tense seconds she held the position before her shaky legs pushed her ahead and into Meares' trap. With Pendleton precisely where she wanted her - directly in front of her - Meares won control to such a point that she crossed the finish line solo.

-Sydney Morning Herald

Fairfax Media