Across four editions of the Commonwealth Games, Anna Meares collected five gold medals and was the Australian team captain and flagbearer at the 2014 Games in Glasgow.
After a representative career that started at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, on the Gold Coast in 2018 Meares was the first bearer of the Queen’s baton, she had the distinction of having the track cycling venue named as the Anna Meares Velodrome.
Now, with two years to the next edition of the Games in Birmingham in 2022, Anna Meares’ Commonwealth Games involvement travels the full cycle – named as a member of the 2022 Australian Team Executive.
Meares will join fellow Olympic gold medallist and Chef de Mission Petria Thomas, and fellow Commonwealth Games gold medallists Sharelle McMahon and Kurt Fearnley in leadership positions on the Australian Commonwealth Games team for the 2022 edition.
The gold medal winning quartet will work alongside Commonwealth Games Australia’s General Manager Team Performance and Operations Tim Mahon on the Australian Team Executive for the Games.
Meares ended her career on a high as flagbearer of the Australian Olympic team in Rio in 2016, during her illustrious career Meares captured eight Commonwealth Games medals, 11 world titles and two Olympic gold medals, to be one of the most successful Australian athletes on the international stage in any sport.
The cycling champion she was looking forward to continuing her involvement at what would be her sixth Games, after four as an athlete and her role as an ambassador at the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast.
Anna Meares winning gold in Glasgow in 2014. (Getty Images)
“When Petria extended the invitation, it was really exciting. It’s a very special part of my career and now I can give back to the team that gave me so much,” Meares said.
“To see something I’ve been involved with for a really long time from a different perspective and be involved in making it happened from behind the scenes is something I’m really interested in. I’ve been part of teams where I’ve seen Petria working very hard along with Chef Steve Moneghetti so I know that it takes a team to make a team or an individual successful.”
Meares says she hopes her athlete perspective will help the 2022 team achieve success and have an enjoyable Games perspective.
“I’ll bring an athlete’s perspective which I’ll be able to offer the team collectively, so there will be empathy for the athletes and for the staff,” Meares said.
“I know that the athletes get the medals, but it takes a big team behind the athletes to get the athletes there as less stressed as possible. So as a general manager that is going to be my key role in Birmingham.”
Thomas said having Meares on the team would be a huge boost for our athletes in Birmingham.
“Anna always had an uncompromising approach… which undoubtedly was one of her trademarks and also the reasons for her success over nearly 15 years at the very top of her sport,” Thomas said.
“We look forward to Anna bringing that mindset to the team in a management role. She also overcame significant setbacks during her career on the bike, so she understands that not everything goes your way. All of her experience will help in creating a team environment in Birmingham that allows every team member to do their best work and have a positive and memorable experience.”
Anna’s international debut came at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester where she won bronze in the 500m time trial behind older sister Kerrie who won gold.
Four years later in Melbourne, Anna won the gold medal in the event, and in Delhi in 2010 she won three gold medals – in the 500m time trial, the sprint and team sprint events.
At the 2015 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, Meares took the gold in the keirin, her 11th world title in total, which made her the most decorated female track cyclist of all time.
She won gold in the 500m time trial at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and in the sprint in 2012 in London, and was selected as flagbearer and captain for the Australian team at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she won a bronze medal in keirin.
In doing so she became the first Australian to win individual medals in four consecutive Olympics.
HM Queen II presenting the QBR Baton to Anna Meares. (Getty Images)
Dual gold medallist Sharelle McMahon competed in four Commonwealth Games and was the youngest member of the netball team which won gold at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. Four years later she helped the team defend that title in Manchester while also winning silver medals at the following Games in Melbourne and Delhi. A former national team captain, McMahon was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2016.
Kurt Fearnley bowed out of international competition with an emotional win in the T54 marathon on the streets of the Gold Coast in 2018, an effort which saw him become the first Para-sport athlete to win Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s ‘The Don” Award as the athlete who has most inspired the nation. He concluded his international representative career as a two-time Commonwealth Games and three-time Paralympic gold medallist.
The Team Executive recently conducted a ‘virtual visit’ to Birmingham, having meetings with key members of the organising committee as work continues towards the staging of the Games, despite the significant restrictions in place across England due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thomas, a nine-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist will become Australia’s first female Commonwealth Games team Chef de Mission. Thomas believes the 2021-2022 sporting calendar will provide an unprecedented opportunity for Australian sport.
“Changes to the world sporting calendar provide a great opportunity for our sports and athletes. The Olympics, Paralympics, Winter Olympics, Winter Paralympics, and Commonwealth Games will all be conducted within 12 months. Add in world championships and other major competitions and tournaments in many sports and it will be a bumper year of sport,” Thomas said.
“Most Australians love cheering for the Green and Gold and this will provide a great opportunity to maintain momentum during this time. An unprecedented opportunity which we will grasp.”
Commonwealth Games Australia is planning to send one of its largest teams to compete in an away campaign with an expected team size of 425 athletes across 19 sports, including the recently introduced women’s T20 cricket.
The largest team for an away Commonwealth Games is 409 athletes in Glasgow in 2014.
Australia was represented by 473 athletes on the Gold Coast with the team topping the medal tally with 80 gold, 59 silver and 59 bronze medals.
Birmingham 2022 is set for the largest-ever female and para-sport programme in history with women’s T20 cricket, beach volleyball and Para-table tennis joining the existing sports including aquatics (swimming, Para-swimming and diving), athletics and Para-athletics, badminton, basketball 3×3 and wheelchair basketball 3×3, boxing, cycling (mountain, road, track and Para-track), gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic), hockey, judo, lawn bowls and Para-bowls, netball, rugby sevens, squash, table tennis, triathlon and Para-triathlon, weightlifting and Para-powerlifting and wrestling.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will take place from 28 July to 8 August.