THE world will never know how good a triathlete Anna Meares could have been.
Thanks to the "nagging" of her first coach, Rockhampton's Ken "Reggie" Tucker, Meares literally got back on her bike after quitting the sport in her early years as a cyclist in CQ.
And she hasn't looked back since.
The Rockhampton rocket was once again the toast of the cycling world and Australian sport yesterday after a world-record breaking night at the world championships in Melbourne on Sunday.
The 28-year-old wound back the clock to clinch gold in the 500m time trial - an event where she won her first world title at the same Hisense Arena track eight years ago.
Meares, who finished the world titles with a medal in every event and two world records after Thursday's flying 200m, came within one hundredth of a second of becoming the first woman to break the 33 second barrier after a scorching 33.010 seconds to take gold.
With family and friends cheering on, including parents Tony and Marilyn from Middlemount, Meares embraced Tucker after the race before paying tribute to her first coach live on television.
"When I was probably 11 or 12 years old (Reggie) took me under his wing as my first coach and I was the first girl he ever coached and he was the first person that saw any promise or talent in me so I'm very thankful for all the time and effort he has put into me - he's a very special person in my life," she said.
Speaking to The Morning Bulletin on her return to the Australian cycling team's base in Adelaide yesterday, Meares revealed if it wasn't for Tucker she could still be dabbling in the sport of triathlon.
After quitting cycling when she was about 11, Meares would travel in with her family from Middlemount most weekends for older sister, Kerrie, to train on the track.
At the time, Anna was just happy to sit on the other side of the fence and watch.
"He kept at me and kept at me every weekend," she recalled.
Still on a high yesterday on his return to Rockhampton, Tucker also recalled enticing Meares back on the track at a young age.
"The funny thing about it is when she quit riding she said she was going to go swimming or something and she said 'you know Mr Tucker I'm a very good swimmer'," he laughed.
"Just as well she didn't go swimming."
Tucker said he was indebted to Meares and her wonderful support and friendship over the years.
"It was very special for me, what can I say, she dedicated the race to me and goes out and rides a world record and wins it," he said.
"When she won the keirin the previous night it almost took the roof off the stadium but last night you couldn't hear yourself think.
"I can't speak highly enough of Anna. I can't thank her enough for what she's done for me the last week.
"If it wasn't for Anna's persuasive ability I would have been content to watch it on TV at home."
Anna's world titles
- 2004 Melbourne: 500m time trial
- 2007 Spain: 500m time trial
- 2009 Poland: team sprint (with Kaarle McCulloch)
- 2010 Denmark: sprint, team sprint (with Kaarle McCulloch)
- 2011 Holland: sprint, keirin and team sprint (with Kaarle McCulloch)
- 2012 Melbourne: 500m time trial, keirin
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