Olympic Champion, Anna Meares, is set to fly home to Australia from Los Angeles after being cleared by doctors to travel.
Meares crashed during the final of the keirin event of the Los Angeles world cup on Sunday (LA time) and was taken to hospital for treatment. The 24 year-old Team Toshiba rider says she remembers the accident and hitting the deck but little after she was knocked unconscious.
“I remember actually accelerating before the bell to make my move and I remember hitting my head and being in a lot of pain and that was it,” said Meares.
“It was the last lap of the keirin and I was on the back deliberately because everyone was crossing around and I thought I could get a clearer run from there. As I tried to come around from the middle of the bend there was a lot of movement and Svetlana Grankowskaja was forced to come back down the track and when she did she collected my front wheel as I was coming underneath her.
“Marv (Head Coach Martin Barras) said it was a good thing that she collected me on that side because it was a shorter fall.”
Meares has suffered a hairline fracture to her C2 vertebrae and some torn muscles in her neck, a dislocated right shoulder, torn tendons in her shoulder and some bruising.
“The doctors here say it will be four to six weeks before I get back to normal and I will need to wear a soft collar neck brace and use a sling for a while,” said Meares. “I’m using a cane to walk around at the moment but I’ll have a clearer idea of what the situation is when I get back to Adelaide and see our team doctor.”
But Meares can at least see a bright side to her situation.
“It could have been a lot worse and I’m flying back first class with Qantas which is only the second time I’ve got to do that,” laughed Meares. “Last time was on the charter flight back from Athens after I won the Olympic gold medal.”
The sprinter is unsure at this stage the implications of her injuries on her campaign for the Olympic Games in Beijing. “I haven’t spoken to the coaches about any of that yet and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to ride the World Championships (Manchester) at the end of March,” said Meares. “Hopefully I’ve done enough in the World Cup rounds so far to secure a place but we’ll have to see.”
Finally, she said she has been buoyed by the support of the hospital staff.
“The staff here have been great and I’ve been signing autographs and everything,” said Meares. “I also received some lovely flowers and a card from a little girl who I signed an autograph for at the velodrome during competition which was really sweet.”