• Meares in what shapes as her last Olympics (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Anna Meares bowed out of competition at the Rio Olympics with 10th overall in the 9th-12th sprint. It wasn't a performance reflective of her career or even this Olympics after her bronze in the keirin and just missing another bronze by 0.02 seconds in the team sprint.
By
Cycling Central

16 Aug 2016 - 9:42 AM  UPDATED 16 Aug 2016 - 9:49 AM

Speaking to Kate Bates on Channel 7 after her final event, Meares reflected on her career in the midst of the swirl of emotions that must have weighed heavily just after finishing up her Olympics campaign.

"9th to 12th, I must admit, that's brutal... getting put out for a 9th to 12th," said Meares. "But that's the Games... I put these colours on, I ride hard."

Meares hadn't quite looked her old dominant self in the match sprints and had to fight her way through the repechages to make it to the 1/16 finals, before then losing to Chinese rider Zhong Tianshi in the repechages to make the quarter finals.

"It's 10th overall... not what I wanted, I knew that a sprint was going to be very difficult here but I didn't think I'd be that far off the mark. But I've given it my everything and I hope people can forgive me that I didn't deliver this time."

"I've revelled in and loved the role (as Australian team captain), it makes me feel as though it's more a reward for the things that I have acheived, how I've gone about it and who I am.

"I'm really proud of all that, I'm really proud to be team captain, I was extremely proud to walk in that stadium as a flag-bearer and I'm still extremely proud.

"Unfortunately sport delivers highs and lows, the Olympic Games is the Olympic Games, I always go out to win and so does every other bastard too." 

Perhaps Meares career-defining rivalry was her battle with Victoria Pendleton over a series of championships and Olympics. It was touching to see her big rival at the Rio velodrome in a commentary capacity, able to share in the moment that the rivals could uniquely understand.

"I just would like to take this opportunity to thank some people, in particular my coach Gary West. In May that last year I was emotionally broken and exhausted, and I picked up the phone to ring him to tell him that I was done, I was quitting."

"He knew something was up because I couldn't talk. He read it, told me a story and shared an experience and said, 'You owe me, you owe this sport nothing but everyone on this team loves you and you need somewhere to go to be surrounded by positive people so just come to training for that reason'. And I did and it got me here."

"That to me is not just the sign of a good coach, a good coach can change the game, a great coach can change a life and he's done that for me in so many ways."

"To all of Australia, thank you."

"I'm a big girl now, but I once was a little girl that just had a dream and I've lived that dream for twenty-two years, I've been immensely proud to where these colours and I hope you've been proud even in the low moments with how I've represented you."

On what was on the immediate horizon for the celebrated champion of the sport, Meares laughed and said, "A holiday, some chocolate and a mighty strong glass of rum."