World and Olympic champion Anna Meares is aiming to be the first female cyclist to win four Olympic track medals when she leads an inexperienced Australian squad to the London Games.
The Australian Olympic Committee unveiled a 14-member cycling squad yesterday, with Meares and 22-year-old Jack Bobridge the only athletes with any experience at the Olympics.
Meares, who became the first Australian female to win Olympic track gold in 2004, can compete in three events at London: the team sprint, alongside triple World Champion partner Kaarle McCulloch, the sprint and the keirin.
The Australian team won medals in eight of the 10 Olympic events at the world championships earlier this year, including gold medals to 19-year-old Matthew Glaetzer, Shane Perkins and Scott Sunderland in the team sprint, Glenn O’Shea in the omnium and Meares in the keirin.
“We’ve named a really exciting group who will be extremely competitive,” Cycling Australia national performance director Kevin Tabotta said.
“Although relatively young, [the athletes] have demonstrated they have the talent and maturity to deal with the demands of major competition,” Tabotta said.
The 28-year-old Meares is hoping to become the first female cyclist to win medals at three Olympics, and is not concerned about the relative youth of the team.
Olympic selection “is something that I’ve been working towards for four years,” she said. “It was a very emotional moment, especially for my teammates who are heading to their first Olympic Games. I don’t think of that as a weight on my shoulders, I quite like holding that place in the team.”
Meares is keen not to inflame her strong rivalry with Britain’s reigning Olympic sprint champion, Victoria Pendleton.
“I’m not going out saying anything personal against Vicky and Great Britain,” Meares said. “We’re both competing for that Olympic gold medal and unfortunately, only one of us gets it.”
Team pursuit rider Alexander Edmondson is the youngest member of the squad, at 18. His sister Annette, 20, was selected for the women’s team pursuit and omnium, making them the first brother-sister combination to represent Australia in cycling at the Olympics.