Meares beats Pendleton to sprint gold for Australia
Australia's Anna Meares celebrates. AFP PHOTO /LEON NEAL
Australia’s Anna Meares stunned British rival Victoria Pendleton to win the women’s Olympic sprint title at the London velodrome on Tuesday.
China’s Guo Shuang took the bronze after beating Kristina Vogel of Germany in the race for third place.
Pendleton, racing for the last time in what has been a hugely successful career, had been expected to beat her arch-rival after showing stunning form on the way to the final.
However, the 31-year-old Englishwoman’s nerve seemed to go after she was relegated from the first race, which she won on a photo finish, having made the critical error of coming out of her sprint lane.
The pair got up for the second race, but after Pendleton took the race by the scruff of the neck, following a brief trackstand, she had no response when Meares put in a big turn of pace on the back home straight.
The Australian, 29, won with relative ease at the finish where she pumped the air in joy.
It is her second Olympic title, but first in the sprint, in which she finished behind Pendleton in 2008. Meares won the 500m time trial gold at the Athens Games in 2004.
Pendleton had come to her final Games having set a series of personal bests at a recent squad training camp in Newport, Wales and continued that form during six days of competition in which Britain blew their rivals away on the boards.
Crowned keirin champion on Friday, she began her campaign by posting a new Olympic record of 10.724sec for the 200m flying lap — the opening salvo in the demanding, three-day battle for the sprint title.
But as Pendleton was beating all her match rivals, from Russian teenager Ekaterina Gnidenko, to Dutchwoman Willy Kanis through to Belarusian Olga Panarina and then Vogel in the semis, Meares was going about her business in the same fashion.
The Australian was the only other rider to post a sub-11sec time in qualifying.
She then coasted past Kayono Maeda of Japan, Canada’s Monique Sullivan, Ukrainian Lyubov Shulika and showed similar class in disposing of Guo 2-0 in her semi-final matches.© AFP 2013