Anna Meares has smashed the world record to win her fourth 500 metre time trial crown and her second gold medal of the 2012 UCI Track World Championships. It was the tenth career world title for the 28 year old who won her first senior gold medal on the same track in the same event at the 2004 world titles.
Her victory and bronze medals to Ashlee Ankudinoff in the women’s 3000 metre individual pursuit and to Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard in the Madison pushed the Cyclones team to the top of the medal table with a total of 15 medals from 19 events made up of six gold, six silver and three bronze medals.
Great Britain had three less medals to finish second on the table also with six gold but with four silver and three bronze. Germany was the only other country to score more than one gold claiming two as well as two silver and one bronze medal. Five nations shared the remaining five gold medals on offer.
Women’s 500 metre time trial
Anna Meares lined up in the 500 metre time trial as the seventh of 23 starters. She hurtled out of the starting gate urged on by a mighty roar from the home crowd to clock 18.716 seconds for the first lap.
As the noise level rose so did Meares pace as she homed in on her mission to rewrite her name in the record books. The first woman to ride a sub 34 second 500 metres stopped the clock tonight in 33.010, agonisingly close to cracking the sub-33 second barrier and almost three tenths of a second faster than the mark set by Lithuanian Simona Krupeckaite to win the title in Poland in 2009.
“Oh man! Where can I find one-hundredth of a second? Seriously,” laughed Meares. “I can’t be too disappointed with that. I saw a 33.0 and someone asked me earlier today if I was going to run 32 and I said, ‘Nah, no chance.’
“One one-hundredth of a second though… seriously!”
The win is her second of the week and comes after her success in Saturday’s keirin. She also claimed bronze in the sprint and teamed with Kaarle McCulloch to place second in the team sprint.
“This track has been so good to me in the past and I haven’t ridden a time trial in 18months,” Meares said after claiming her fourth medal from four events. “I knew tonight was going to be special, I did forget how much (it hurt)… the old legs were hurting afterwards.
“My goodness I couldn’t believe how loud this crowd was for me tonight.”
Her previous world time trial crowns were won in 2004, 2007 and 2010 and she equals the record of of ten world titles in women’s sprint events held by retired French track legend Felicia Ballanger who coincidentally was at this week’s event to witness Meares ride.
“Its something special [to win] my 10th world title in the event where it all began for me eight years ago,” said Meares who dedicated the win to her first coach, Ken ‘Reg’ Tucker.
“Reg Tucker was the first coach who ever saw a spark of talent in me. I wasn’t always good at this sport when I first started at 11 years of age. I was generally a competitor making up the numbers but he saw something in me; he called me the ‘Ugly Duckling’ but he’s never doubted me in any way.
“About ten months ago Reggie didn’t even realise the worlds were going to be here this year so I rang him up and said, ‘I’ve got a plane ticket and some seats for you. You’re coming.’,” said Meares. “I’m glad that he did come because it’s something special.”
Tucker said the performance had left him nearly speechless, a state he rarely felt.
“I always did have faith in her but she has exceeded all my expectations and the ride was just wonderful,” Tucker said after seeing his charge excel over five days of racing.
“My form has just been phenomenal this week and I’m really pleased with how I’ve carried it through the five days of competition,” Meares explained. “Tonight it was special for me to ride the 500 but it was also very strategic as well: it’s day five of competition, there are five days of racing in London. And I’ve got to back up every single day after the first day of racing; I did that tonight and I’m really pleased.
“I love this event. For me it’s just such enjoyment. There’s no one else to get in my way, for starters. And it’s pure speed. And it’s pure control,” she explained adding that she wanted a technically perfect race from the gate to the line but isn’t sure if she pulled it off. “I don’t know. It hurt. I remember that much. I felt like I was at walking speed coming home in the last quarter lap. But, no, I haven’t gritted my teeth that hard in a race for as long as I can remember and I was fighting for everything I could get out of my body today.”
Meares compatriot McCulloch knocked two tenths of a second off her previous best finish in 34.097 seconds and just outside the medals in fourth. Germany’s Miriam Welte was second in 33.626 and Briton Jessica Varnish finished third in a time of 33.999.
Women’s Individual Pursuit
Sydney’s Ashlee Ankudinoff and Tasmanian Amy Cure both achieved person best performances in the 3000 metre women’s individual pursuit where the pair qualified for an all Australian battle for the bronze medal.
Cure’s 3:28.474 was the third fastest qualifying ride and as seven seconds under her previous best time while Anodic knocked four second of her previous mark with the fourth best time of 3:28.869.
In their head to head race for third place Ankudinoff, 21, hit the lead early and held a gap of around one second over Cure, 19, until the final four laps when the teenager fought back with her trademark late charge but it proved to be too late with Ankudinoff hanging on to win the medal in a time of 3:33.593, five hundredths of a second quicker than Cure (3:33.642).
Ankudinoff said she was ‘pretty stoked’ to claim a medal after missing out on her goal of a start in the team pursuit.
“I was the 2010 world champion (team pursuit) and then I was out with injury in 2011, so I fought back so hard in the start of the season for 2012. I just came out here put no pressure on myself. I’m happy to come away with a 3.28 to be honest.”
The gold medal in the pursuit heads across the ditch to New Zealand after a solid ride by Alison Shanks (3:30.199) to defeat Briton Wendt Houvenhaghel in the final (3:32.340).
Australians Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard claimed the bronze medal in the 50 kilometre, 200 lap Madison that wrapped up the Championships.
The pair knew going into the race that they would be marked riders after winning the event at the past two world championships and on the back of Meyer last night winning his third world points race crown.
“I had it yesterday,” said Meyer of being marked through out the points race. “I came away with a win, but I spent 150 laps frustrated and today I spent 200 laps frustrated.
“It’s disappointing that some countries go out there with a mindset that ‘oh, we’re going to follow one team’,” said Meyer. “I know that’s bike racing, but I’m on the bad end of it, unfortunately, and so is Leigh (Howard).”
The gold medal was won by Belgian pair Kenny De Ketele and Gijs Van Hoecke. The last time Belgium won the title was in 1998 in Bordeaux when Etienne De Wilde and Australian born Matthew Gilmore scored gold. Gilmore is now on the Cyclones’ team as a coach for the Madison event.
The Belgian pair amassed a total of 24 points to finish six ahead of Great Britain’s Ben Swift and Geraint Thomas on 18 with the Australian duo third on 11 points.
Meyer paid “full credit” to the Belgians and to the British pairs.
“They had more points then us on the day and we’re still very happy to be on the podium in front of a home crowd,” Meyer said.
Australia’s world champion team sprint trio lined up in the men’s keirin where Scott Sunderland was the best placed winning the consolation final to finish seventh overall. He won his first round heat but in the second round finished fourth missing the medal final.
Teenager Matthew Glaetzer was nursing burns and will take home a large splinter as a souvenir of his keirin campaign that saw him crash and slide in spectacular style in the first round repechage heat. Defending champion Shane Perkins also missed out on qualifying into the second round.
Sir Chris Hoy won the crown, the fourth keirin title of his career, which moved him to the top of the most wins table ahead of Frederic Magne of France and Germany’s Michael Hubner who have three titles each.
Germany’s Maximilian Levy was third and Hoy’s team mate jason Kenny was awarded the bronze medal after New Zealand’s Simon van Velthooven was relegated for not holding his line in the final sprint.
Hoy’s win was his eleventh world championship victory.
2012 UCI Track World Championships – Cyclones Australian team list and medal summary
Men’s Team Sprint* – Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland, Matthew Glaetzer
Men’s Omnium* – Glenn O’Shea
Women’s Keirin* – Anna Meares
Men’s Individual Pursuit – Michael Hepburn
Men’s Points Race – Cameron Meyer
Women’s 500 metre time trial – Anna Meares
Women’s Team Sprint* – Anna Meares, Kaarle McCulloch
Men’s Team Pursuit* – Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn, Glenn O’Shea, Rohan Dennis
Women’s Team Pursuit* – Josephine Tomic, Melissa Hoskins, Annette Edmondson
Women’s Omnium* – Annette Edmondson
Women’s Scratch Race – Melissa Hoskins
Men’s Individual Pursuit – Jack Bobridge
Women’s Sprint* – Anna Meares
Women’s 3000m individual pursuit – Ashlee Ankudinoff
Men’s Madison – Leigh Howard and Cameron Meyer
* Events on the Olympic Games program