Anna Meares (Cycling)
Anna Meares was the World Champion, World Record holder and Olympic gold medalist (Athens, 2004) in the 500 m Time Trial. Unfortunately, this event was dropped from the schedule for the Olympic Games In Beijing, forcing her to switch to the sprint.
In January 2008 she had a catastrophic fall in the finals of the Track World Cup in Los Angeles, fracturing her C2 vertebra, dislocating her right shoulder, and severing the tendons and ligaments between her neck and shoulder. Two millimetres more in her fracture would have left her a quadriplegic, unable to breathe without a ventilator. She had to remain lying down for two weeks. Then, as she could not lean on the handle bars, a device was rigged up to enable her to ride an exercise bike in the upright position.
Of her first training session after the crash, she wrote: "Needless to say that my first session was certainly a rude shock to the body. I was sweating profusely, gasping for air and shaking from fatigue. I walked out of gym absolutely shattered and found myself extremely sore. A good thing of course." Later, as she readied for Beijing, her training regime included -8 degree ice baths.
On the Beijing track she fought her way through to the finals. In the semi-final, she was elbowed and nearly lost control of her bike. A narrow loss was ruled a win by the judges. In the final, she was beaten by Great Britain's Victoria Pendleton, the world champion in the event. Nonetheless, her Silver Medal was the only medal won by the Australian cycling team in Beijing.
For her disregard for pain, injury, and the expert advice of the medical establishment in her quest for an Olympic medal, Anna Meares is awarded the Gillian Rolton Award.