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Anna Meares OAM is the only athlete in Australian Olympic history, from any sport, to win individual medals at four consecutive Olympic Games. When the legendary Australian track cyclist retired after the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, she held 11 World Championship crowns, making her the most successful and decorated female track cyclist in history.
In demand as a motivational speaker, Anna Meares is down to earth, friendly, impressive and incredibly driven. Her story is one of courage and inspiration, tragedy and triumph. She never fails to win peoples' hearts within seconds.
Anna Meares was inspired to cycle when she watched Kathy Watt win a gold medal at the 1994 Commonwealth Games. She began competitive cycling that same year at the age of just 11, following her older sister Kerrie into the sport. Weekend training involved driving more than 300km each way to the nearest cycling track in Mackay, Queensland.
Anna made steady progression to the upper ranks of Australian cycling, gaining many accolades along the way. Her achievements include Australian Junior Women's Track Cyclist of the Year and selection for the 2002 Commonwealth Games team for Manchester.
Four years later, Anna was honoured to be the nation's flagger for the Rio Olympics. At these Games, Anna broke the 500m World record and won another world title, taking her career total to 11 World Championship crowns. She went on to win her sixth Olympic career medal, a bronze in the kern. This medal makes Anna the only athlete in Australian Olympic history from any sport to win individual medals at four consecutive Olympic Games.
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In May 2004, Anna became the world time trial champion at the World Titles in Melbourne, cementing her performance with gold at the World Cup in Sydney a few weeks later. At the Athens Olympics in 2004 Anna claimed her first Olympic gold medal, setting a new world record in the process. Only minutes earlier, Yonghua Jiang from China broke the existing record, meaning Anna had to better that new mark to get the gold. She succeeded, and went on to claim a bronze medal in the 200m sprint final.
In 2008, Anna Meares suffered life-threatening injuries after a terrible accident in the third round of the World Cup circuit in Los Angeles. Doctors said she was two millimetres from being paralysed from the chin down. It was Anna's dream to ride in Beijing and she was back on her bike just 10 days after her fall. With hard work, discipline and determination, she recovered enough to qualify a spot for Australia, then went on to win a silver medal just seven months later in the Women's Individual Sprint, at that time, the only Olympic medal won by any Australian Cyclist in any cycling discipline.
Anna shifted her focus to the 2012 London Olympics, where she won gold in the sprint in against long term rival Victoria Pendleton of Great Britain. She also won a bronze medal won in the team sprint.
Anna's achievements were acknowledged with an OAM in the Australia Day Honours List in 2005 and in 2008 she was recognised as the Australian Cyclist of the Year and the People's Choice Cyclist of the Year.