After growing up in the small Queensland mining town of Middlemount, Anna was inspired to become a cyclist by her sister Kerrie after they watched Kathy Watt win the cycling gold medal at the 1994 Commonwealth Games. Anna started cycling competitively the same year, aged just 11, with the nearest cycling track around 300kms away in Mackay. Two years later, the family moved to Rockhampton, making the training schedule far easier.
Anna’s training paid off when she not only won the gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, but she was also the youngest Australian track cyclist to win Olympic gold, and the first Australian female track cyclist to win an Olympic gold medal. To top it off, she also set a new world and Olympic record in the Women’s 500 metre time trial of 33.952 seconds before winning a bronze medal in the Women’s Sprint, and was later awarded an Order of Australia medal for her achievement.
Her training was in full swing when in January 2008, Anna broke her back at the Los Angeles World Cup. She was thrown from her bike in a collision with other riders and sustained a hairline fracture to her C2 vertebrae. If it had been just two millimetres more, she would have been a quadriplegic on a respirator for the rest of her life. Her other injuries included a dislocated AC joint in her shoulder, heavy skin grazing, torn tendons and muscle tissue damage. The accident immediately threw her plans for the Beijing Olympics in August into doubt, and it was possible she may never ride again.
She was determined however, and was back on the bike within just ten days of the accident, albeit only tentatively. At the Melbourne time trial four and a half months after the accident, she was easily able to eclipse the Olympic qualifying time set by selectors in the 200 metre sprint. She was also very close to achieving a personal best time. At the Beijing Olympics, with the goodwill of Australia behind her, she won the silver medal in the Women’s Individual Sprint, the only Olympic medal won by any Australian Cyclist in any cycling discipline.
Taking the lessons learnt from her rehabilitation in 2008, Anna shifted focus to the 2012 London Olympics, where she won gold in the Sprint in an intense and historic sporting moment against long term rival Victoria Pendleton of Great Britain. It was the coming together of a 3 year plan by Anna, her coach Gary West, manager Francine Pinnuck and cycling team that saw Anna implement a great tactical display to defeat her great rival. That gold was matched by a bronze medal won in the Team Sprint.
Not satisfied with her success in London, Anna pushed on for another 4 year cycle to the Rio Olympics, in which time Anna broke further the 500m World record and won another world title taking her career total to 11 World Championship crowns making her the most successful and decorated female track cyclist in history.?Anna was honoured to be the nations flagger for the Rio Olympics where her leadership exuded and went on to win her 6th Olympic career medal, a bronze in the kern. This medal makes Anna the only athlete in Australian Olympic history from any sport to win individual medals at 4 consecutive Olympic Games.
Anna retired post Rio after 22 years involved in the sport, 15 years of those representing Australia at the elite senior level.
Anna was brilliant, she was warm, professional, engaging, motivating, emotional, genuine and funny. Anna had the room captured, she ran over time but that was absolutely fine because guests were loving her. Anna exceeded my expectations. We have received so many comments from guests. Anna worked the room talking to the guests at pre-dinner drinks and around the boardroom table (50 people). Anna met with me before to view the room, talk through the event and personally sign her book, which each guest received.– KPMG
Anna was such a lovely person, and had a wonderful story of sheer determination that moved us all.– Enterprise & Training Company Limited
Anna has just delivered a keynote address to our annual Professionals Congress in Perth. Her presentation was outstanding and received rave reviews from our attendees. It was on topic, well delivered and inspirational. It was easy to see that Anna’s professional approach to cycling has flowed through to her speaking. She was a pleasure to work with in the lead-in to the congress and generous with her time afterwards for photos. Another gold medal performance!– Chair, Financial Planning Association of Australia
Anna?is an absolute inspiration and engaging?presenter.– Local Government Association SA
Anna was an inspirational presenter and very entertaining. She was so open with her journey and shared the heart aches and successes in an inclusive way. Everyone was very moved and more determined than ever following Anna’s?presentation.– Belle Property