There’s a tendency for the word ‘courageous’ to be abused in the sporting context. Seems like any big performance is described as such, regardless of how much courage was actually involved. Athens Olympic Games 500m time trial gold medallist Anna Meares was preparing for the Beijing Olympic Games when disaster struck: riding the keirin at the Los Angeles World Cup event she crashed heavily, fracturing her C2 vertebra. It was an injury that almost cost Meares her life. Anyone familiar with Meares knows she is a gregarious, likeable athlete, popular with fans and adept at media commitments. She uses those skills to provide an insight into the world she inhabited after her crash and the determination required to make a comeback after just seven months of recovery and training. Australian team masseuse Berthy May, sister Kerrie, her husband Mark Chadwick and, of course, Barras were central to the success of her return and this quartet receives the thanks it deserves. Meares is a gritty character in all her pursuits on the track – you don’t win Olympic and world titles without that determination. As such the story of her topsy-turvy 2008 is one that should be enjoyed by cycling fans and those looking for a little more ‘real’ courage in their sporting tales….