Out & About – Anna Meares, Legend
Many Australians remember highlights of Anna Meares’ 22-year cycling career fondly; not only was she the captain and flag bearer at the 2016 summer Olympics, but she is the most decorated cyclist in Olympic history, and the only Australian athlete to win individual medals in four consecutive Games. As evidence of Anna’s incredible talent she just became the sixth and youngest ever athlete elevated to “legend” status in the SA Sport Hall of Fame, 2021.
Although Anna has achieved remarkable feats, her life has also been marred by great tragedy, and her story of resilience has inspired us at ICMI for a long time. One of the most remarkable feats of Anna’s career was fracturing her neck in a velodrome crash in Los Angeles, just months before the Beijing Olympics. Anna went from being 2mm away from breaking her neck and dying to winning silver within months of the accident. Despite her incredible accomplishments in the velodrome, nothing could prepare Anna for the devastating events that would rock her personal life after Olympic retirement; the end of her marriage and the tragic death of her long-term coach.
After taking some time away from the spotlight to ease into retirement, take up a new role as the General Manager of Commonwealth Games Australia, and process the highs and lows of her tremendous career, last year Anna returned to publish her autobiography, Now. Now doesn’t just focus on her cycling career, but the challenges she faced throughout her life and career thus far; from winning gold medals, to recovering from a devastating injury and learning to navigate grief and loss. Anna also details her private struggle to start a family after dedicating over two decades to cycling and gives insights into her journey toward motherhood, as Now’s release coincided with the birth of her daughter, Evelyn, in February last year. Anna told the ABC last year that she feels “if [the book] helps one person, then I’ve done my job”. Anna, it’s a job well done.