Meares to claim her most important title … mum
Anna Meares has been an Olympic, world and Commonwealth champion and was Australia's flag-bearer at her final Games in Rio; but the one title she has wanted more than any other is to simply be called "mum".
And now she finally will, with the retired track cyclist revealing she and partner Nick Flyger - Australia's national sprint cycling coach - are expecting their first child in February.
"This is the one thing that I've always wanted that I've never had," said Meares, 35.
"In context of titles, being a parent, for Nick being a dad and me being a mum, I would put that above everything I've ever done. In some ways, I wasn't sure I'd ever get this chance so it's really special now that we have."
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Meares almost quit cycling in 2015 when her marriage ended but she rode on to Rio where a bronze medal in the keirin saw her become the only Australian athlete in history to win an individual medal at four consecutive Games.
She has remained busy in retirement with public speaking, working with the Little Heroes Foundation and ABC radio, as an ambassador for the Tour Down Under, Fight MND and Port Adelaide while also learning to paint and becoming a foster carer for children in need.
And now she and Flyger are set for their biggest job yet.
They have known each other since 2010 when Meares was on the interview panel when Flyger applied to do his PhD with Cycling Australia.
The New Zealander had spent five years working in Malaysia as a sports scientist when he joined Australia's national cycling program.
They worked together for six years and through two Olympics until Meares retired and Flyger took over from national coach Gary West, who died from motor neurone disease in 2017.
"When I retired, I really distanced myself from the sport and the team, just because that's what I felt I needed at the time, and we kind of reconnected after Gary passed away," Meares said. "Everyone gathered for his funeral and his wake and it was really nice to be around the team again.
"Nick recognised my struggling with the grief of the loss of Gary after Nick had lost his own father a short time earlier.
"We started to spend a bit more time together as friends and a relationship grew from that. He has literally seen every possible side to me as an athlete and a person."
Flyger, 39, also has one eye on next year's Tokyo Olympics and was in the US with the national team when Meares had her 12-week baby scan.
"I had to be FaceTimed in so I could see it all," he said. "It (parenthood) will be the biggest coaching gig you can do."
The pair learnt they were expecting while on a camping trip to Uluru in June. They were on their way back at Hawker and about to open a bottle of red wine when Meares said she didn't think she should drink because she had an inkling she was pregnant.
"So we drove into town to try to find a chemist and couldn't, so we stopped by the local hospital and got a pregnancy test, and were sitting around the campfire right on dusk and found out," Flyger said.
Flyger is already claiming "75 per cent New Zealand citizenship" for their child given that, incredibly, both he and Meares' father Anthony grew up in the same town of Nelson on the South Island.
"We're not discussing pink or blue, we're discussing green and gold or black and silver," Meares said.
The couple tries to keep cycling talk to a minimum at home but Meares has learnt that she needs to be a good listener, regardless of the topic.
"At the start, I wasn't interested in talking about the sport but I realised a partner is there to offer that support, and I could see I wasn't doing that, so it changed after that," she said.
Meares said they had already shared the news with friends and family but she couldn't hide her baby bump in public any longer.
"I'm doing a lot of travel and I'm on stage a lot, I can't hide it any more," she said.
"I'll be 19 weeks on Saturday which is my 36th birthday, a bit fatigued but not too moody I don't think, and no cravings apart from Milo."