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Sarah Hammer (United States of America)
Omnium and team pursuit medals progress after Beijing drought
In 2008, the USA brought home exactly zero Olympic medals in track cycling, but their women's endurance program turned all that around when Sarah Hammer took silver in the omnium and she and Dotsie Bausch, Lauren Tamayo and Jennie Reed joined her in silver in team pursuit at the London Games.
Hammer took a close second to Great Britain's Laura Trott in the omnium, while the team pursuiters were also put into the silver medal spot by the British team.
Hammer hopes that her and her teammates' results will help to inspire women to get into track cycling, whether they be young or adult.
"For American track cycling, hopefully, this is just the start," Hammer said after her omnium result. "We had no medals in Beijing, now we have women's team pursuit and an omnium medal. I hope it motivates everybody at home that it is possible, whether you are 10 years old or just started cycling later in your career, anything is possible. I hope this gets the ball rolling for everyone at home. It's go time."
In sharp contrast to the purely fringe status that track cycling has in the USA, in Great Britain the sport is enormously popular - all sessions of the Olympics were sold out shortly after tickets went on sale, and the Manchester Revolution series races are regularly well attended.
To compete in a venue where the crowds filled the stands in the thousands was something new for Hammer and her teammates.
"This Olympics has been special, first and foremost on what it is to be a track cyclist here at the Olympics. We normally don't get the
attention like that. Here we are in the Olympic Park, seeing the track from where we're staying in the Olympic Village. It's an amazing feeling to have the spotlight for everybody to see what is track cycling. For everyone here in Britain, it's well known. Hopefully, at home it will get the attention of the media and jump start everybody to give it a go."
For now, Hammer is looking to finally relax a bit and enjoy the Games after having blocked out most of the excitement to focus on the competition.
"It's everything I had been dreaming of, wanting for the last two years. I've dedicated myself to this omnium event. I'm now the proud owner of two of these silver medals. It's an amazing dream that I've been dreaming about since I was 10 years old, starting cycling in Temecula,
California. Now I get to go home and share this with my friends and family. My husband is here, but I can't wait to show everybody back at home."