Australia drew first blood in the track cycling at the Commonwealth Games today when reigning champion Anna Meares retained her title in the women's 500m time trial.
It completes an astonishing comeback for Meares, who broke her neck in a cycling accident at the World Cup in January 2008 before fighting her way back to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"It taught me a lot about life and who I am," the three-time world champion said. "I'm now more patient and appreciate things more. I know I'm lucky to travel the world and ride a bike for a living."
Meares shaved more than half a second off her own best to cross the line in 33.758secs, setting a new Commonwealth record and beating compatriot Kaarle McCulloch by almost a second. Becky James of Wales claimed the bronze medal.
"I've improved a lot since Melbourne four years ago," said Meares. "The track is very nice to ride but it's a tough one. You have to generate your own speed. It's smooth and grippy. Today it's a lot warmer than in training after we asked for the air conditioning to be turned down and that has improved the track speed."
McCulloch finished in 34.780 while James crossed in 35.236. "Losing to Anna is no shame as she is a team-mate of mine," said McCulloch. "A silver medal at the Commonwealth Games is pretty special."
© AFP 2010
Australia's Anna Meares waves after winning the final of the 500m time trial