Would it be rude of me to confess I have a deep affection for Anna Meares?
By
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

After scrutinising the movements and rare public comments of Australia's
highest-profile track cyclist in the week leading up to the world
championships, I've come to the conclusion that Anna epitomises
everything there is to being a role model.

The first time I
discovered Anna's brilliant talents was at Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome
whilst covering the 2002 Track National Championships.

Here was a
shy, but ever-determined 18 year old representing the colours of
Queensland racing for gold medals against her equally talented older
sister Kerrie in finals of most of the sprint events on offer at the
time.

Although most of us watching from the stands instantly
agreed this was a star in the making, little did we know what a
passionate and beautiful person Anna would become through her sporting
success.

I've been a fan ever since.

We've all come to learn Anna's passion for life, family, cycling and Australia.

In
the special Women And Wheels feature, which appeared on Cycling
Central
last Sunday, she was asked in three words to describe cycling.

"Dream, fun and challenge," was her answer. Perfect.

She is such a classy human being in every way.

Listen
to her talk in a room filled with members of the world's media, as was
the case only once last week, and she performs with such dignity
and grace.

There doesn't seem to be an ounce of vindication in
her body, even when journalists try to extract a headline regarding the
rivalry that may or may not exist with Great Britain sprint opponent
Victoria Pendleton.

Even when the UCI killed off her beloved 500m time trial after the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, did Anna cry over the decision?

No.
Instead, she decided to re-evaluate her career path and focus on the
events she has dominated ever since: the team sprint, individual sprint
and keirin.

Anna confesses she may not win every race she
competes in at the Hisense Arena this week at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships, but I for one will have my
fingers crossed she does.

Although still in the prime of her career, already many are describing her as a "national treasure".

For mine she compares with the likes of Dawn Fraser, Don Bradman, Hubert Opperman, Rod Laver and Ron Barassi, to name a few.

Why?
Certainly not just because she plays the role of cycling ambassador
exceptionally well, but for everything else that makes up the complete
Anna Meares "package".

Melbourne will more than likely be Anna's final appearance in front of a home crowd at a world championships.

She'll
have every bases covered by bringing special members of her immediate
family to watch, urge and scream from the bleaches in the coming days.

Here's
hoping Anna gets the boisterous standing ovation she fully deserves, from those watching
at the arena or on television and online here through SBS.
Win, lose or draw this week.

It's the least we can do for an Aussie icon with a heart of gold.

Such is her dedication for the sport she loves, this week she also stated: "I wish I could stick around forever."

So do we, Anna. So do we.