Meares wins Opperman medal, confirms she’ll defend Olympic gold in Rio 2016
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Meares wins Opperman medal, confirms she’ll defend Olympic gold in Rio 2016

by Shane Stokes at 12:53 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Gerrans takes SMS Elite road cyclist prize at Australian Cyclist of the Year awards in Sydney

Cycling AustraliaAt the end of a stunning season when she became Olympic, world and Australian champion in events on the track, Anna Meares’ achievements saw her also dominate the Jayco 2012 Australian Cyclist of the Year awards in Sydney.

The 29 year old took the prestigious Sir Hubert Opperman Medal when she was named the Australian Cyclist of the Year, repeating her success in that category four years after first winning it. She also secured the People’s Choice trophy for the third time, plus the Mavie Elite Female Track Cyclist of the Year.

In an emotional speech, Meares spoke about the sacrifices of her family and also the huge amount of work she and sprint coach Gary West put in in order to hit peak condition for this year’s Games. She said that her difficult defeat to Britain’s Victoria Pendleton in the worlds sprint was very tough to bear, but ended up helping her achieve the bigger success months later in London.

“Having to lose that race in front of the home crowd is probably one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced, in terms of my own pride and expectations,” she said during her acceptance speech. “But it was probably the best preparation I possibly could have had for the London Olympic Games because in the space of one day, I had to turn around that disappointment and put in a good performance in the Keirin [which she won – ed.]. I had to lean very heavily on Gary, get a few hugs as well, and realise that sometimes coming third isn’t that bad.”

In the buildup to the Olympic Games she and her coach took a mental approach that she said proved equally important. “We didn’t focus on Victoria Pendleton and I have Gary to thank for that. Among the things we had to teach myself to be competitive is to emotionally detach from my opponents…to put a statistical piece of information in front of me instead of emotion attachments to experiences from the past.”

An emotional Meares said that finishing fifth in the Keirin in London was very tough for her, given that it was the first time in three Olympics that she would not medal. She talked about her battle against Pendleton in the sprint final and the physical and emotional steps she went through to take gold. It was clear that winning the race took a huge amount of mental strength, not least in coming back from the Keirin, and when it paid off with victory, it had a very big effect on her.

“I was able to live a dream that I had spent the last 18 years wanting to have happen,” she said, talking about her elation and sense of achievement. “I had bronze in Athens in the sprint, silver in Beijing, and I’m so proud that I can now say that I am the Olympic sprint champion.”

Meares confirmed that she had indeed decided to continue until the next Olympics, thus quashing any retirement plans.

Gerrans amongst other category winners:

Milan San Remo and Santos Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans lost out to Meares in the overall classification but was crowned the SBS Cycling Central Elite Road Cyclist of the Year. Sam Willoughby became Singapore Airlines Elite BMX Cyclist of the Year, Michael Gallagher was Elite Para-cyclist of the Year, and each of the three were also considered for the Opperman medal.

Omnium World Champion Glenn O'Shea landed his first Mavic elite male track award and Caroline Buchanan nabbed the Singapore Airlines elite female BMX title for the fourth straight year.

In the elite mountain bike category 24hr solo marathon world champion, Jason English took the men's while London Olympian Rebecca Henderson secured the women's award. The women's Para-cycling award was shared by Paralympic Games winning tandem pair Felicity Johnson and pilot Stephanie Morton.

Junior track star Taylah Jennings was named the Shimano Junior Cyclist of the Year and Geoff Stoker the Jetset Glynde Masters Cyclist of the Year.

As for the non-competitive honours, Victorian Hilton Clarke was presented with the Coaching Award for the second year in a row while National Track Sprint Coach, Gary West, accepted the Coaching Program Award on behalf of the Cycling Australia / AIS Track Sprint High Performance Program.

The season was a successful one for Australian cycling, with 48 wins, 37 seconds places and 29 bronze medals in World Championships, Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

The awards took place at a black tie gala at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth in Sydney. Jayco, the Australian Sports Commission, Subaru, SBS Cycling Central, Mavic, Singapore Airlines, Shimano, Jetset Glynde and the Amy Gillett Foundation were sponsors.

The full awards list is as follows:

Jayco 2012 Australian Cyclist of the Year Awards:

2012 Australian Cyclist of the Year - (Sir Hubert Opperman Medal) - Anna Meares OAM
People's Choice Cyclist of the Year - Anna Meares OAM
Jetset Glynde Masters Cyclist of the Year - Geoff Stoker
Shimano Junior Cyclist of the Year - Taylah Jennings
Mavic Elite Female Track Cyclist of the Year- Anna Meares OAM
Mavic Elite Male Track Cyclist of the Year - Glenn O'Shea
Elite Female Mountain Bike Cyclist of the Year- Rebecca Henderson
Elite Male Mountain Bike Cyclist of the Year- Jason English
SBS Cycling Central Elite Female Road Cyclist of the Year- Rachel Neylan
SBS Cycling Central Elite Male Road Cyclist of the Year - Simon Gerrans
Singapore Airlines Elite Female BMX Cyclist of the Year - Caroline Buchanan
Singapore Airlines Elite Male BMX Cyclist of the Year - Sam Willoughby
Elite Female Para-cyclist of the Year - Felicity Johnson & pilot Stephanie Morton
Elite Male Para-cyclist of the Year - Michael Gallagher OAM  
Cycling Australia Coaching Award - Hilton Clarke
Cycling Australia Coaching Program of the Year - The CA / AIS Track Sprint High Performance Program

Shimano Junior Cyclists of the Year - Category Winners:

Track Female - Taylah Jennings
Track Male - Jacob Schmid
MTB Female - Danielle Beecroft
MTB Male - Connor Fearon
BMX - Female Rachel Jones
BMX Male - Bodi Turner
Road - Female Emily Roper
Road Male - Caleb Ewan

Shimano Masters Cyclists of the Year - Category Winners:

Track Female - Rebecca Wheadon
Track Male - Geoff Stoker
MTB Female - Meg Carrigan
MTB Male - Craig Peacock
Road Female - Gaye Lynn
Road Male - Darrell Wheeler

Australian Sports Commission Volunteers of the Year Awards:

ACT - John Warren
NSW - Bob Robertson
Northern Territory - Aaron Hughes
Queensland - Anthony Torr
South Australia - Ken Gooding
Tasmania - Philip Dunn


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