14/08/2016 8:33 AM AEST | Updated 14/08/2016 8:33 AM AEST

Anna Meares Wins Bronze In Rio Olympics Keirin, Then Says 'Wow'.

She rode the perfect race.

Everyone loves Anna.
Getty Images
Everyone loves Anna.


That was the succinct synopsis from Australia's Rio 2016 Olympics opening ceremony flagbearer Anna Meares after being told she had just broken three kinds of Olympic history in winning a bronzed medal in the keirin.

The medal takes her lifetime Olympic tally to six. But it also meant these three very impressive things:

  • Meares is now the only Australian athlete in any Olympic sport to win medals in individual events at four separate Olympic Games.
  • She has now won more Olympic medals than any other Australian cyclist, and;
  • Meares has won medals in every single sprint event on the Olympic track cycling program.

After the race, Meares was in tears. "They're tears of joy," she said.

AFP/Getty Images
The tears had mostly dried up by the time she reached the podium.

"I knew that was going to be a really really hard final. The girls are very strong and very fast. It's been a big shift from the Olympics in London to the Olympics now.

"I knew I would have to be very patient, find my timing and unfortunately I ran into the hill on the last bend which cost me a bit of speed and I had my elbows out on the home straight, unfortunately my BMX days are coming back.

"But it's better than I did in London in the keirin where I didn't win a medal."

Your Huffington Post Australia correspondent watched the race in the stands alongside the Australian Olympic Team's chef de mission Kitty Chiller.

"She's been an inspiration as a team leader so far, and this will give the whole team a boost," Chiller said. "She created so much history here today."

"That's brilliant, I didn't know that," Meares said when we informed her of her three rather significant pieces of history a few moments later.


Matthew Childs / Reuters
That's the winner in orange, Meares in the middle and the British rider who pipped Anna for silver on the left.

Meares, 32, was the oldest woman in a field of 20-somethings, but showed her legs were still in pretty good shape as she positioned herself perfectly midfield for a charge around the final bend in the six-woman field.

She almost got there, but race leader Elis Ligtlee of The Neterhlands clung on, with Rebecca James of England closing rapidly to snare silver from Meares by 0.005 of a second. That's right, five one-thousandths.

The keirin is the event where competitors sprint for eight laps of the velodrome -- but there's an unusual twist. For the first five-and-a-half laps, they race behind a cool little electric-powered motoribike, which serves as a pacemaker. Its technical name is the "derny" and it gradually picks up pace before the racers unleash their sprints.

AFP/Getty Images
Those electric bikes are cool. We want one.

This is an event for tacticians rather than racers whose only asset if raw speed or power. Meares, of course, is both. And she showed it in her history-making ride, in what she said was her main focus of this Games.

Meares, who has suffered countless serious injuries over the years, said she struggled to keep in the gym and stay strong. You wouldn't have known watching her.

Meares finished a close fourth in the women's team sprint yesterday. Her third and final event in Rio is the individual sprint. Heats start on Sunday, local time, with the final on Tuesday, which is Wednesday morning AEST.