It is hard to imagine the situation where a 32-year-old competitor is considered old, but that is the situation Anna Meares finds confronting her head-on.
Meares won her 35th national title on Friday night in the individual sprint, a worthy accomplishment for any cyclist, more so because she also won her 33rd and 34th national titles in the same competition.
Yet, she has no guarantees of a spot on the 2016 Rio Olympic team, nor is she assured of a place when the track world championships in London next month.
Meares has to deal with the reality that Australian women’s cycling in sprint events is populated with younger stars, including Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton. There are two spots for women racers available for the worlds and the Olympics.
Leading up to the individual sprint, Meares qualified in third position behind McCulloch and Morton, but beat them both handily, with neither of the matches requiring the third race in the best-of-three format. Meares swept both women, even though dealing with back issues and a slightly strained quadriceps.
With three Olympic Games on her resume, Meares is considered ancient by cycling standards where every year of age brings measurable declines in aerobic capacity and the ability to recover from strenuous competitions.