February 13, 2913
We are now less than a month from the Laureus World Sports Awards 2013 in Rio de Janeiro. In the first of our Q and A interviews with 2013 Nominees, Comeback Award contender Anna Meares, the Australian cycling gold medal winner, talks about getting to the top of her game after injury, her favourite moment from last year and what she likes to do in her time off.
Q: In addition to your gold medal win of course, what was your favourite moment from the London Games last year? And what was your favourite event to watch?
A: My favourite event to watch would have been the BMX finals, [but] my favourite memory was when my father met Steve Waugh.
After racing had finished I brought my husband Mark, my mum and dad into the village to have a look around. When I ran into Steve Waugh whom I have met a few times through the Beijing and London games I introduced them all to him but my Dad was so taken a back he looked like a 10 year old meeting a legend for the first time. I have never seen my dad speechless like that before.
Q: You are nominated in the Laureus Comeback of the Year category for winning gold in London just 4 years after a potentially career threatening injury, but you were also incredibly successful in Beijing 2008. Do you think having the Olympics so soon after the injury helped push you on to recovery at all?
A: After my accident in January 2008, if it wasn’t for the Olympics looming I would not [have] pushed my recovery at all. The Olympics was the sole reason I did push so hard.
Q: Compared to Beijing 2008, did you feel different in the run-up to London 2012? Having put the injury behind you, did you feel more confident of Gold medal success?
A: The two preparations could not have been more different.
Beijing I had limited time to get back what I could to be competitive and was not expected to perform and had a lot of hope from people that I would.
London preparation was incident free and consistent with plenty of time and there was all expectation not hope so the feeling of pressure was different to perform. I was also the senior member of the team in London, not a young member, so my position in the team had changed and I had to deal with the hype of an intense and fiercely competitive rival, hometown heroine Victoria Pendleton.
I had never before experienced being such a focal point of the sport I was participating in at that level and having our intended head to head battle [with Pendleton] a feature of the games.
Q: Was the silver in 2008 actually more of a triumph than gold in 2012, considering the battle to come back from injury?
A: Not even going to compare, they are so different.
Q: Your achievement last year speaks for itself, but what does it mean to you to be nominated in the Comeback category?
A: Bit mixed for me.
It is an enormous honour to be nominated but to me the comeback ended in Beijing so I feel a little bit strange that people believe my comeback to have gone for so long. That in my mind was the end of the chapter, but I can see why people other than myself would include my result in London as a part of that same story.
The nomination to me shows that what I have been able to achieve was extremely difficult and challenging, that’s why people are drawn to my story and that’s why I am proud that I can use myself as an example to help others find it in themselves to get up, and keep fighting for what they believe is worth it. For me what I fought for was absolutely worth it.
Q: The Laureus Comeback category is often the most inspiring of the Awards, which sportspeople inspired you when you were younger and who do you particularly admire now in the sport world?
A: I am an avid sports fan and I admire many sports stars including Kathy Watt who, when I was 11 years old, watching her on TV racing sparked my interest in cycling; to Steve Waugh, Michael Jordan, Mark Webber, Matthew Cowdrey, Raelene Boyle, Sally Pearson… the list is endless for me.
Q: And finally, what does Olympic champion Anna Meares enjoy doing most away from track?
A: Gardening, Art, walking my dog Bruce and spending time with my husband Mark Chadwick.
Keep an eye on @LaureusSport for more interviews with the Laureus Award Nominees.