• Anna Meares (L), Stephanie Morton (C) and Kaarle McCulloch (R) won the team sprint against New Zealand during the Oceania Track Cycling Championships on October 8, 2015 in Invercargill, New Zealand (AAP)Source: AAP
Anna Meares is bullish about Australia's current crop of sprinters, saying it's one of the best groups in recent memory.
Cycling Central

2 Feb 2016 - 11:34 AM 

Cycling megastar Anna Meares says Australia's current crop of sprinters is the best in recent memory.

Meares will headline the Cycling Australia Track National Championships in Adelaide starting Wednesday, where the sprint events will help shape Australia's Olympic team.

"It's one of the best groups, potential-wise, application-wise and development-wise, that we have had for a while," Meares said. "And that says a lot.

"This group will carry forward for quite some time as well."

Meares, seeking her ninth Australian sprint individual title and eighth team sprint crown, has recovered from a back injury which forced her out of the team sprint at a World Cup meet in New Zealand last December.

The dual Olympic champion said the sprint's standing start troubled her back, but she contested the keirin in New Zealand and won silver from a rolling start.

"It was just really unfortunate timing, extremely frustrating," she said.

"I had very good form, which I could show in the keirin because it was a rolling event - the least pressure on my back.

"The back has now settled down really well. I have been able to get back and do some really solid ground work."

At the nationals, Meares will pair with Stephanie Morton in Wednesday's team sprint events, ahead of the individual sprint on Thursday.

In the men's individual sprint, world No.1 Matthew Glaetzer is eyeing a third consecutive title.

But he will face stiff competition from emerging star and recent World Cup winner Pat Constable and Shane Perkins, who despite being cut from Cycling Australia's high performance program still is hunting a berth at this year's Rio Olympics.

Perkins' feats at the nationals will be crucial to his Olympic bid.

"I admire his hunger, commitment and dedication," Meares said of Perkins.

"It is unfortunately what happens in an Olympic year, you can't take 10 people. There are five spots across the board for sprint.

"It should always be the case - you have to earn it."