Sarah Hammer(Temecula, Calif./OUCH Pro Cycling) on Tuesday earned her second silver medal of the 2012 Olympic Games by finishing second in the women’s omnium. She adds this to the silver medal she collected over the weekend in the women’s team pursuit.
Hammer, who amassed 19 points through the six-event competition, was edged out for the gold medal by one point by Laura Trott (GBR) while Annette Edmondson (AUS) won the bronze medal with 24 points.
“It came down to the last race, the last heat, going for the gold medal ride,” Hammer said. “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, Calif. 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.”
Entering the second half of the six-event, two-day competition, Hammer and Trott each had 12 points, but Trott held an advantage due to better single-race results. Hammer however wasted no time wrestling the upper hand in the overall standings away on the second day, even if just by a single point.
Riding in her specialty event, Hammer won the individual pursuit with a time of 3:29.554, just 1.003 seconds faster than Trott. Hammer, the four-time world champion in the individual pursuit, proved her mettle early in the race, recording the fastest split times at the one-kilometer and two-kilometer marks, en route to shaving over two seconds off her mark at the 2011-12 UCI Track World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, in April.
Hammer expanded her lead to two points over Trott in the scratch race after she finished in second place while Trott placed third. The two leading riders both animated the 10-kilometer race as each broke away, but with the other driving the field, the breakaways were brought back. In the end, Hammer outkicked Trott on the last lap to finish second behind Edmondson and just one spot ahead of Trott.
“We were hoping for a little more cushion between Sarah and Laura” explained USA Cycling High Performance Director for Endurance Programs Benjamin Sharp. “In the scratch race we got really close to a three to four-point cushion and the points race, the last sprint there might have been another opportunity to put some space between us and Great Britain. Looking at the five events before the 500 TT though you really couldn’t have planned for a better situation and to be going for a gold medal on your last ride with the lead, anything can happen at that point.”
Thus the stage was set for a dramatic sixth and final event of the omnium, the 500-meter time trial. Pitted in the final heat opposite Trott, Hammer recorded a personal-best time of 35.900 to finish fourth in the event. Trott, however, was faster, finishing in 35.110 to win her third event of the omnium, earn three points on Hammer and secure the gold medal. Edmondson finished the time trial in 35.140 to place second and win the bronze medal.
“The 500 has been the hardest one for me in past events,” shared Hammer. “That’s what I’ve been training for. That was kinda what got me there in the end. It was a personal best for me. I’ve never gone sub-36 (seconds). I’ve been training and waiting for that moment. There’s always things that coulda, woulda, hoped for, but that’s the nature of the omnium. You don’t know how other people are going to place here or there. If you would have changed your move, maybe that would have shuffled places of other people. I’m really thrilled getting through all six of those events. I gave it my best shot on every single one. That’s why I get to have this around my neck right now.”
Next up for USA Cycling is time trial qualifying for the BMX cyclists beginning on Wednesday at 3 p.m. BST.