August 23, 2004 – “This is the ultimate,” said Lori-Ann Muenzer of the Olympics after her successful qualification in the sprint on August 23. “Everything you’ve ever dreamed about is here. I remember watching Steve Bauer in the Olympic road race (in 1984), and I said to myself, ‘I want to do that.'” And so she has.
Muenzer had the fastest time in the quarter-finals as she was up against Venezuela’s Daniela Grluis Larreal Chirinos in the best two out of three matches winning two straight. Both times she made her move on the banking going into the final 200 metres, diving down and gaining speed with this tactic. In the first match, which she won in a time of 12.064, she came around Larreal Chirinos, and clearly using her superior strength to decisively take the heat in the last 75 metres.
In the second heat, when she recorded 11.888 for the fastest time in qualifiers, she dove at the same place, this time getting below her opponent and using the advantage of the shorter distance to easily take the race.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Anna Meares, who had set a new world record in the 500 metre time trial just three days earlier, took her heat two straight with 11.916 and 12.048. Meares, age 20, won the silver medal in the sprint in the world championships this May, an incredible improvement on her tenth place a year ago at the worlds in Stuttgart, Germany. Two Russians – Svetlana Grankovskaya, world champion for the past two years, and in 2001 – took her match two straight against Belarus’s Natallia Tsyllinskaya in 11.945 and 12.085. Her teammate Tamilla Abassova had a controversial second match again Lithuania’s Simona Krupeckaite. Abassova took the first match in 11.993 while the second match was an absolute photo finish, and officials declared it a tie. Abassova took the third match, but in replays was clearly seen elbowing Krupeckaite, however, it was she who accused the Lithuanian of riding unfairly. In the end, though, the match was awarded to the Russian in 11.914.
The semi-final and final are scheduled for Tuesday, August 24, starting at 4:30 Greek time.