Anna Meares confirms Rio 1016 in sights

ROGER VAUGHAN
Last updated 13:02 10/11/2012

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Australian track cycling star Anna Meares confirmed on Friday night 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.

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."

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