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Meares aims for cycling greatness
Paul Mulvey
07:19 AEST Wed Jul 18 2012

Anna Meares wants to leave London as the greatest female Olympic track cyclist of all.

With one gold medal to her name already, Australia's sprint queen is focusing on a treble in London to surpass Frenchwoman Felicia Ballanger whose three Olympic titles from the 1996 and 2000 Games rank her as the greatest.

Meares, who won the now defunct 500m time trial in Athens in 2004, is chasing gold in the sprint, team sprint and keirin in London, the first Games at which women can compete in the three events.

"I have three medals, one of them's gold and I'm hoping that maybe I can be up there with the great Felicia Ballanger," Meares said from Australia's training base in Montichiari, Italy.

"I love the fact I have a real shot at winning not just one, not just two but three gold medals in London and that is so exciting for me.

"And that's what's been driving me for the last three and a half years since the new event calendar was announced."

Women have only competed in track cycling at the Olympics since Seoul in 1988 and have had a restricted program until this year, presenting Meares with a better chance than any rider before her to take Ballanger's crown.

"The opportunity is huge and I'm hoping for some of the greatest performances of my career," she said.

But while the Queenslander's confident, she isn't cocky. She knows Britain's Victoria Pendleton will have the same quest in mind.

Pendleton won her one Olympic gold when she beat Meares in the sprint final in Beijing four years ago and she's also chasing a treble at her home Games.

The Briton claimed a pre-Games edge when she wrote yet another story into their fierce rivalry when she reclaimed the world individual sprint title from Meares in dramatic fashion in Melbourne earlier this year.

"I think it's fair to say she has had the more dominance over me over the last, probably, 10 years," Meares said.

"But I've started to be able to claw back in the last one or two and stand my ground and put up a great contendership for the Olympic title."

She said losing to Pendleton in the semi-final in Melbourne, in which the Brit crashed in race one and Meares was disqualified in race two, has sharpened her for an Olympic rematch.

"I've had time to learn from that experience and be able to implement some strategies that are really going to help me in London," she said.

Although she acknowledges there are other cyclists to look out for in the three sprint event, there's one scenario she's hoping for.

"If I could have my golden dream moment, it would be to race Vicky in the final of the sprint," she said.

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