© Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Meares chasing Pendleton
23 March 2011
Australian Anna Meares believes she could take a
major step towards Olympic sprint glory in London if she beats
British rival Victoria Pendleton at the world championships in the Netherlands
In a regal six-year spell Pendleton has amassed five world
titles and an Olympic sprint gold, beating Meares into silver medal
position in Beijing three years ago.
At the March 23-27 championships,
30-year-old Pendleton has hinted that her ambition to defend her Olympic crown may give her few authentic rivals a sniff of replacing her
as world champion.
"I don't mind if I don't win another world title
between now and the Olympics. If I win the Olympics,
everything would be absolutely okay," Pendleton said Tuesday.
that may be music to the ears of some, it won't be to Meares. Having
dominated her usually unbeatable English nemesis in the semi-finals of a recent
World Cup event in Manchester, the Australian is not lacking in confidence -
despite having zero world sprint titles to her name.
What's more, the
27-year-old Australian believes that after 16 years of training and trying to
get the most out of her body she can move up a gear or two in the 16 months
between now and London 2012.
"Not a lot has changed for me in the last
year, except that I've had no injuries and no illnesses," Meares said.
"But I'm finally starting to understand the importance of training
history, and I believe I still have plenty of room for improvement."
Normally, Meares would kick off the championships looking to defend her
500 metres time trial crown, now a non-Olympic event but one which is
a fairly reliable gauge of who will be on form in the sprint tournament.
But having seen her sprint gold bid suffer from the fatigue induced
while regaining the title last year, when she finished fourth, she has dropped
the 500m from her schedule.
"These championships are huge for me,
they're a big stepping stone towards London," added Meares.
motivated. Competition is what it's all about and for me it's still fun.
"Plus, I've never won a sprint or keirin world title. Victoria has been
the one to beat, she's had a hold on the (sprint) title for the past five, six
Meares and the other Australian sprinters are all under the
coaching wing of Gary West. And while he believes Meares will respect all her
rivals, he expects her rivalry with Pendleton to simmer for a while yet.
"Anna will be focusing on everybody, not just Victoria Pendleton. She'll
be one of several girls to beat," West said.
"I think that when it comes
to Victoria, there's an element of some unfinished business (from Beijing). Anna
is focused totally on London, on stepping on to the podium, and not just the
Meares meanwhile believes that beating Pendleton here at
the championships will reinforce her belief that she can do it again in London.
"To be an Olympic champion you've got to be the best, but you
also have to beat the best," she added.
"I've already done that this
year and I feel I've got the form to go out there and do it again."
competition opens Wednesday when five finals will be held: the women's 500m and
points race and the men's scratch, team sprint and team pursuit.