Australia’s cycling great Anna Meares announced her retirement Sunday, ending a glittering career of two gold medals from four Olympics and 11 world championship titles.
Meares, 33, who revealed she needed six cortisone injections to compete at the recent Rio Olympics, said her decision was reached after a period of reflection.
“Obviously, a lot of people will be wondering where I am going to post-Rio. With some time in reflection I have decided that I am actually going to retire,” Meares told the Nine Network.
“I wanted to remove myself from that environment and get over some of the emotions attached with the Olympic Games.”
Meares said there had been a temptation to ride on and finish her career at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, but the effects of riding competitively had taken its toll.
“Having looked back and seen all the things that I have achieved and assessed some of the injuries that I have had to manage going into Rio,” Meares said.
“Most people were unaware just to get to Rio I had six cortisone injections through my spine.”
Meares claimed the bronze medal in the keirin event at the Rio Games, her sixth Olympic medal making her the most decorated Australian cyclist in Games history.
“I feel satisfied and happy to step aside from the sport and try something new and different,” she said.
“I am really proud of my longevity, also proud of the level of high consistency in my performances and results during my career,” Meares added in a Cycling Australia statement.
“It is hard to close this chapter, because it is a bloody big one, but I am really excited about the doors opening in to the next chapter of my life.”
During a stellar 15-year international career, Meares was the only Australian athlete to medal at four consecutive Olympic Games in individual events.
She also won five Commonwealth Games gold medals and 35 national titles.
Meares fought back from serious injury when she fractured a neck vertebra on the World Cup circuit in Los Angeles in January 2008.
Later it was discovered that if the crack in her vertebra had been two millimetres longer, she could have been killed or left a quadriplegic.
Yet seven months later she went from a wheelchair to winning an Olympic silver medal in the sprint in Beijing.