NEW DELHI – Cycling superstar Anna Meares handed Australia’s track team their third gold of the day on Thursday and ninth of the Commonwealth Games, beating Welsh sensation Becky James in the sprint final.
Meares, a former Olympic champion and world record holder, won the first ride comfortably before pipping James on the line in the second.
The gold is Meares’ third in three days, capping a near flawless performance which has seen her take Commonwealth records in two events.
After the sprint, Meares paid tribute to 18-year-old James who had clocked
35.236 seconds in the women’s 500metres time-trial to take bronze on her Games debut Tuesday.
“I got to talk to her quite a bit in this tournament and she’s a beautiful girl. I love the fact that she can just switch to being very aggressive on the track and she showed real power in that second race. It was so tight I was quite worried. She’s a real rider.”
Emily Rosemond, 24, a short track speed skater who has represented Australia at the winter Olympics, picked up the bronze.
It completes an astonishing week for veteran Meares, 27, 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.
But she said she was not worried about tactics going into the sprint final.
“The best races are those were you don’t think,” she said. “In the sprint you have to be quick with your decision making. It was a hard race.”
Meares retained her title in the women’s 500m time-trial with a new Commonwealth record Tuesday, shaving more than half a second off her own best.
She picked up another record qualifying for the sprint on Wednesday.