Cycling great Meares to lead Olympics team

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Anna Meares, one of Australia's greatest cyclists, will be the chef de mission for the Paris Olympics team.

The four-time Olympian and two-time gold medallist will be the second woman to lead the Olympic team, after modern pentathlete Kitty Chiller had the role for the 2016 Rio Games.

Meares, 39, will take over from Ian Chesterman, who was chef de mission last year in Tokyo and is now the Australian Olympic Committee president.

"Every athlete comes with a story, an ambition and a feeling of great pride in representing their country," Meares said in an AOC statement.

"My job is to ensure we provide the right environment for all of them as they strive for Olympic success, enjoy their experience as an Olympian, and allow all in Australia to learn about their story and connect through sport."

Meares was Australian team general manager this year at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, serving under chef de mission Petria Thomas.

"When you examine what she has achieved, the obstacles she has overcome and the manner of her achievement, the qualities that make a chef de mission are there on abundant display," Chesterman said.

"Very importantly, Anna is a leader and has a passion for serving athletes. She will be a wonderful team-builder.

She has walked in the athletes' shoes at four Olympic Games, winning medals of every colour and was our team captain in Rio.

"And her comeback from a very serious injury to win a silver medal in Beijing 2008 is the stuff of legends.

The track sprinting legend capped her Olympic career as the team flag bearer for the opening ceremony at the Rio Olympics, where she won bronze in the keirin.

She is the only Australian to win medals in individual events at four consecutive Olympics.

After winning gold in the 500m time trial at the 2004 Athens Games, Meares showed enormous courage to win sprint silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In January that year, Meares had suffered a neck fracture in a race crash.

The injury was millimetres away from causing her permanent damage.

Meares then beat British arch-rival Victoria Pendleton in an epic sprint final at the London Olympics.

She also won bronze in the sprint at the Athens Olympics and partnered Kaarle McCulloch for bronze in the team sprint at London.


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