07 August 2012

Meares Beats Pendleton!

My pre-Olympics pick for the women's sprint had to settle for the silver medal.  Anna Meares of Australia won the gold-medal final against Victoria Pendleton of Great Britain.  Pendleton actually won the first race in the closest photo finish I've ever seen.  Because she ever-so-slightly came out of her sprint lane, Pendleton was relegated, giving Meares the first race with a time of 11.218 s.  That works out to an average speed of 17.829 m/s (64.183 km/hr or 39.881 mph) over the 200-m (656-ft) sprint.  Meares was originally given 0.001 s off Pendleton's time before Pendleton was relegated.  Multiplying average speed by that time difference gives about 1.78 cm (0.702 inches).  The photo finish looked even closer than that, making me wonder if the 0.001 s time difference was not simply the smallest value the timers could give.

Meares and Pendleton slowed to almost a stop at the top of the track during their second race. Pendleton decided to break out early, but Meares kept pace.  Once the tune was heard to sprint, Meares was close enough to draft and conserve a little energy.  She then moved out of Pendleton's slipstream and sprinted to gold.  It was great strategy!

It's too bad that the first race between Meares and Pendleton ended in a relegation, especially given the amazing photo finish.  It would have been nice to see a third race between those two legends of the velodrome.  Congratulations to Anna Meares for a great ride!

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