Anna Meares details mental health battles
GRACEMERE product and Australian cycling’s former golden girl Anna Meares is set to release her new book tomorrow.
In her new autobiography titled Now, Meares details her struggles dealing with life after sport and also her mental health battles.
Meares was a tough nut who never appeared to crack in a decorated 22-year cycling career.
She retired after a fourth Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, a two-time gold medallist and 11-time world champion.
Meares, who did a lot of her early cycling in Rockhampton and Gracemere where she grew up, is the only Australian to have won individual medals at four consecutive Olympics.
She remarkably came back from breaking her neck in a horrific track accident in 2008 to claim silver eight months later in Beijing.
The 36-year-old this month told The Advertiser in South Australia where she resides, that revelations in her new book would most likely shock those outside her immediate family and friends.
But she said it was a crucial part of showing how her life had come full circle after becoming a mum to baby Evelyn in February.
In retirement Meares admitted she struggled to deal with career and body changes, divorce, self-confidence and the death of her coach Gary West to Motor Neurone Disease.
Meares needed medication to allow her to rest, had endless nights in tears on the phone to family before falling asleep and became a social recluse who struggled to look people in the eye and even trained her dog to walk on a treadmill so she wouldn’t have to leave the house.
In her new book, Meares explains how her life took a positive turn in the most unexpected circumstances in August, 2017, when she reconnected with her cycling family at Gary West’s funeral.
That led to a relationship with now partner and father of her child Nick Flyger who is an Australian sprint cycling coach.
One person looking forward to reading Meares’ new book is former Morning Bulletin sports editor Aaron Kelly.
Mr Kelly was working for The Bully when Meares broke her neck.
“I remember hearing the news of her accident and just thinking ‘is she going to be able to walk again, let alone get on her bike?’ Mr Kelly said.
“All the initial reports were that she was a couple of millimetres away from spending the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
“But once she started her recovery, as a lot of people know with Anna, she’s quite determined.
“If she sets herself a goal she doesn’t normally miss them.
“Once I’d heard that she had set up a clothesline rack just so she could start doing some pedalling in her loungeroom, even with her neck braced up, I knew she was plotting some sort of miracle.
“As history shows, what an achievement to come back those number of months later and actually qualify for Beijing, let alone to make it to that gold medal race.
“And while she didn’t win, she stole the hearts of a lot of Australians with her amazing story.”