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Anna Meares during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonweatlh Games in Glasgow. Picture Getty ImagesGLASGOW: Australian team flag bearer Anna Meares rode away from the opening ceremony ready to make an immediate impact at the Commonwealth Games.
Cycling team officials had Meares’s bike waiting outside the stadium on Wednesday night so she was kept off her feet as much as possible.
She said leading the Australian team was a career highlight.
Once Meares had carried the flag into the arena she made a quick exit because of her first race 24 hours later.
‘‘Save the legs for tomorrow,’’ Meares said of her short ride back to the athletes’ village.
Meares is the overwhelming favourite to win her pet event, the 500m time trial, on day one of the track competition.
But she is determined to ignore outside expectations and not let the massive pressure get to her.
‘‘I’m here because I want to be here. I love it and all of that will come out tomorrow night,’’ she said.
The ceremony and carrying the flag had a massive impact on Meares.
Asked if she would have enough rest before the 500m race, Meares replied: ‘‘I don’t know. I don’t really care. I think I will still be lit from the emotion and energy from tonight for the race tomorrow.
‘‘It’s just incredible, that was the largest Australian contingent ever sent to a Commonwealth Games that I got to walk in with the flag in front of them.
‘‘An incredible memory. I had a terrible night’s sleep last night because I was excited thinking about tonight.
‘‘I will be fine. I can sleep when I get home.’’
Meares is one of the star attractions of a big first night at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins will lead the English team in the latest edition of their long running Ashes battle with the Australian world champions in the 4000m team pursuit.
This is Meares’s fourth Commonwealth Games, equalling Kathy Watt as the most by a female Australian cyclist.
Watt inspired Meares to take up cycling.
At the moment she is one Commonwealth medal behind her idol but will pass her with podium finishes in both her events in Glasgow.
‘‘I’m competitive – I would certainly love one more than her,’’ Meares said. AAP
Anna Meares during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonweatlh Games in Glasgow. Picture Getty Images