USA Cycling-licensed and certified coach Andy Sparks is one of five finalists in the United States Olympic Committee's National Coach of the Year recognition program, the USOC has announced. The winner will be announced May 3 at the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports award luncheon in Washington, DC.
Sparks, a former elite track cyclist, guided Sarah Hammer through her comeback to the sport of cycling and coached her to a world title in the individual pursuit last year in Bordeaux, France, becoming the first elite women's world champion on the track in 11 years. In addition, Hammer won three national titles at the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships, set a new national record and recorded five victories at UCI Track World Cup events.
"It's always awesome to be recognized for your accomplishments, especially when you pour your heart and soul into it like Sarah and I do on a daily basis," said Sparks after learning of his status as a finalist during this weekend's world championships where he coached Hammer to her second-consecutive world title. "Things couldn't have worked out better during the last 12 to 18 months. Everything has literally been perfect with an unprecedented level of success and consistency.
"It's never a focus to get that recognition for myself, but it just comes with the territory when Sarah achieves that level of success," added Sparks. "Anytime you get recognized for that level of commitment is always a bonus."
Following this year's world championships, Sparks will turn his attention to the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games as he makes preparations for his ultimate goal - a gold medal for Hammer.
"I'll be meeting with USA Cycling and some other people in Colorado to see what we can improve over the next 12 months to try and assemble the best group of experts we can get together and assign everyone very specific research and determine what the absolute best and most ideal situation is in every category, training, nutrition, equipment, everything," he concluded.