ROCKHAMPTON'S Anna Meares showed she still has the golden touch when winning the keirin at the World Championships at Melbourne over the weekend.
At the finish of the race an excited Meares also managed to negotiate the slippery walk in bike cleats up the wooden track to clamber onto the fence to hug her husband, friends and first coach Ken "Reggie" Tucker who travelled from Rockhampton to Melbourne to cheer her on.
"Reg said he was as proud of me as if I was his own daughter and he has all boys so that meant a lot to me," said Meares.
Meares looked in control of the keirin from the start as she worked her way through the first and second rounds to qualify through to the medal final.
Once there she took advantage of her current blistering top-end speed that saw her break the flying 200-metre world record on Friday.
She sat back in the field watching and waiting until the bell lap when she pounced, flying around the outside of her rivals four deep to sail across the line ahead of Russian Evgenia Gnidenko and Germany's Kristin a Vogel.
The victory comes almost a decade after she claimed her first senior world championships medal, a silver in the keirin at the 2003 titles in Germany.
"To win this world title here, in front of my home crowd, is just fantastic," said Meares of claiming her ninth world title on the same velodrome where she claimed her first rainbow jersey in 2004 in the 500 metre time trial.
"I was really just hoping for one (title) in front of my home crowd and perhaps that's a little bit greedy given how difficult it is to win one world title.
"But I really fought hard for that one and I'm so proud that I was able to cross the line first."
The keirin is an unpredictable race that pits six sprinters against each other over eight laps with the riders, in the case of the women, brought up to 45kmh by a motorised bike (derny) over the first 1375 metres before they are left to battle for the line in a helter-skelter two-and-a-half lap final dash.
But while Meares appeared to have dominated, she rejected suggestions it was an easy win for her, admitting she struggled to come to terms with Friday's sprint defeat.
"My husband (Mark Chadwick) sat with me until late last night (Friday), just hugged me, made me feel better and made me realise it's just a bike race in the end," she explained.
"I still felt disappointed when I woke up this morning, but I thought 'today is a new day, the keirin's a new chance, I know I've got good form, I know I've got good strength, I know I've got good speed, I've just got to back myself in'.
"I wasn't going to be happy with coming in here and feeling sorry for myself and not performing today. It doesn't make up for last night, it makes today special," she said.