Coach backs Meares' Rio preparation
27 June 2016
CYCLING - TRACK: Anna Meares' coach has backed her Rio Olympics preparations, saying she is in better physical shape than before the London Games.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist did not win any events at Melbourne's International Track Series over the last few days and was clearly not in peak form.
Meares had mixed emotions about her results, saying she wanted to perform better.
But she is also mindful that she and the rest of the national sprint squad have come off a big block of pre-Olympic strength training that affected the riders differently.
While Matthew Glaetzer starred in Melbourne and again showed he will be one of the sprinters to watch in Rio, Meares lacked top-end speed.
"But she is also a realist and she can see the reasoning," said Australian sprint coach Gary West.
"She knows she has to go through these events.
"On one hand she knows she has to do it - on the other, there's this competitor who wants to go out there and rip someone's head off every single time."
The process now will be for Meares to sharpen her power and speed ahead of the Olympics.
"Our indicators say she's in better physical shape ... than she was pre-London," West said.
"Now whether that's good enough is another question."
And West is bullish about what Meares will produce in Rio, despite a tough run in the last few months with injuries and her personal life.
"Nothing would surprise me with Anna Meares," he said.
"She's one of these unique athletes who knows how to go about it, when to go about it.
"I wouldn't like to be racing against her."
While Meares and Glaetzer will lead the Australian sprinters at the Games, Shane Perkins and Kaarle McCulloch made last-ditch attempts at the ITS to win Olympic selection.
Perkins finished second to Glaetzer in one of the sprint competitions before falling ill and pulling out of the event, while McCulloch posted several podium results.
Cycling Australia will announce the full Rio team on July 5.
West praised Perkins and McCulloch for their performances in Melbourne, but added those results were only a small part of what selectors would consider.
He added there was "no doubt" their rides in the last few days had made the selectors' job harder.
"They've given it their very best shot and they're demonstrating that they're back to where they've been previously, which is encouraging," West said of the two London Olympians.
Perkins was cut from the national program late last year, but stressed he would have no problems returning.
"I want to be part of this squad ... I want to work with Kevin (national performance manager Kevin Tabotta) and Gary," Perkins said.
"There's no reason why I don't."