Anna Meares: Motivation of a Champion

Anna Meares: Motivation of a Champion

Interview by Declan Holt

Anna Meares is a legendary Australian Cyclist. She has been consistently winning races and world championships for the past 9 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

Most recently she took out another title at the women’s keiren during the World Track Cycling Championships in Paris.

The keiren result was her 11th World Championship title moving her closer to Arnaud Tournant’s overall track cycling record.

She plays down any lines of questioning regarding her retirement and rallies on her commitment and passion to stay motivated. But what makes Anna so captivating is her down to earth perspective on competition and the mind-blowing effort she puts into her training.

Her well-documented neck injury and lightning fast return to the track in 2008 showed just how driven she was to succeed on two wheels.

Anna is the first woman to win gold for Australia in track cycling at the Olympics and has gone on to claim 11 world championships, 5 Commonwealth Games titles and 2 Olympic gold medals.

You’ve mentioned patience and frustration can occur when goals and progress start to waver, have you had to work on calming yourself or does your passion give you the energy to break through in a race?

My passion, my commitment and belief in achieving my goals is what drives me. Goals are not set in stone and therefore they need constant reassessment of the situation and realignment of direction to enable you to stay on track as direct as possible. I have trust in the team I work with and we communicate regularly to ensure this happens.

Was it your addiction to riding that drove your recovery in 2008?

No, it was my past experience of racing in the Olympics and my future desire to ride and succeed again in the Olympics. So it was purely goal driven. I learnt however in that experience that no matter where we have been in the past and where we want to go in the future, our attitude and focus on today will have the biggest effect on everything.

The speed in which you recovered from a neck injury is legendary; do you feel you were perhaps putting yourself at risk by returning to competition so quickly?

I definitely put myself at risk! But I believe even though I understood what was happening to me, I think I was somewhat naive to the severity of my situation which allowed me to do what I did.

How does momentum affect your outlook on upcoming events? Do you view each race from the same perspective?

I try to view each race from the perspective of reality. Reality can only be achieved in analysis and momentum going forward if you have all the information, all of the picture to work with.

So this is actually a very difficult process because you don’t just look at the good, you look at the bad and all in between from every possible angle that lead into that event.

So things like nutrition, gym, psych, training, happiness, distraction, recovery, the list goes on all comes into play. You have to be thorough.

How important is it to take a step back and really appreciate how far you’ve come?

Important. I am doing that more now than I ever have. It has given me a sense of peace in my mind that helps with pressure and expectation. No one can ever take from me in any way what I have achieved and I might fall and lose races going forward but I am doing it trying to win and be successful and that can never be faulted in my view by anyone.

What are some of the new strategic elements you’ve had to work on due to new competitors?

That’s a secret for now. Ask me after I retire 🙂

You mentioned you had dreamed about winning your 11th title and meeting Felicia Balinger, do you think your mental imagery training may be crossing over into your sleep?

Potentially. I am a big responder to imagery. I have used this psychological technique for well over a decade and it is a powerful tool for me.

How do you balance the ‘having fun’ aspect of racing and all of the processes and people that work incredibly hard to get you into racing form?

This has been a very hard balance for me and I have found it harder to balance the older I am getting but I believe I have found the process that helps me and I buy into it, that’s the important thing. You can have a process and goals etc. but if you don’t believe it and buy into it, then it is wasted.

There is an increasing perception amongst sports audiences that a majority of professional athletes are using performance enhancing drugs what advice would you have for younger athletes to help them avoid unethical training methods?

Sit down and think about what your values are. What behaviors you find acceptable. When you find your answers to these areas you can then align your actions and thoughts in anything you do to this.

Never waver from your beliefs and values of you as a person and how you act in your life!

It is always your choice no matter the pressure or information thrown your way.

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