America’s most-decorated cyclist joins Performance United to develop future champions.
The winner of four Olympic medals, eight UCI Track Cycling World Championships and 15 UCI Track Cycling World Championships medals while setting two world records in the process, Sarah Hammer has decided to hang up her racing wheels. The three-time Olympian and one of America’s most-accomplished cyclists ever will now ply her wisdom and experience along with an unrivaled focus, intensity and work ethic into developing the next world and Olympic champions as the Director of Coaching at Performance United, the elite training facility in Colorado Springs that she founded with her coach and husband, Andy Sparks.
“I’m really excited to continue my journey of promoting track cycling and women’s cycling in my new role. My primary focus will be to share and implement my knowledge with incoming athletes and coaches so they don’t have to learn it all on their own,” said Hammer, who has served in the pivotal role of athlete mentor at Performance United since opening their first elite training center in Mallorca, Spain in 2009.
Performance United has designed and implemented Olympic and world championship-caliber coaching and training protocol for cycling programs around the world. “We opened our first center in Mallorca, and I think the only location that can compete with that is Colorado Springs because of the added benefits of training at altitude. Over the years, we have provided coaching services for Ireland, Spain, Turkey, Mexico, Korea and South Africa. We’re proud to still represent a few of those countries and now we’re taking on new partners as countries begin their Olympic cycles for Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024. We actually just wrapped up our first camp for the Singapore national team, which went incredibly well,” said Hammer, who hails from Temecula, California. “Knowing that I’ve made a difference bringing high-performance sport programs to these small countries makes me feel really good. Our goal has always been to empower the underdog and with the UCI making many policy changes in the last four years, there has never been a better time to promote track cycling and women’s cycling around the world. I am truly inspired to be a part of this movement.”
Hammer began riding at age eight and won her first junior national title in 1995. After rising up the ranks and competing for two years at the elite level while living at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, she quit cycling in 2003 citing burn out. Hammer sold most of her equipment, went back to school and worked various odd jobs. But while watching her former teammates and competitors race on television during the 2004 Olympic Games, her competitive flame was reignited. She hasn’t looked back since. Hammer ended an eleven-year drought for the United States when she won the world champion’s rainbow jersey in 2006. She was a prolific winner, winning seven more world championship titles and a pair of silver medals at each of the last two Olympic Games – 2016 in Rio and 2012 in London.
“Sarah has had one of the most remarkable careers in Olympic sport. Her achievements are astounding and without a doubt place her among the greatest American cyclists of all time. For those of us who had the opportunity to witness her train and compete first hand, however, her dedication, focus, and leadership may be for what we will remember most. She always got the best out of herself and those around her – and that is a legacy which will remain with the next generation of cyclists who had the opportunity to learn from her and with USA Cycling more broadly,” said Derek Bouchard-Hall, CEO and President of USA Cycling.
Transitioning from competitor to coach should not be a problem for Hammer, who has demonstrated remarkable adaptability throughout her career. Her initial focus was as an individual and then team pursuiter before developing the all-around skills in order to become a world champion omnium rider. Last April, she adapted yet again to win her final world championships medal in the points race.
For Hammer, her most memorable moment as an athlete came during a team event, not an individual feat. Team USA’s unlikely Olympic silver medal triumph in the team pursuit at the London Games, a stunning achievement chronicled in the documentary film “Personal Gold: An Underdog Story,” tops her list. “In terms of results, I am probably most proud of the 2012 Olympic team pursuit medal I won with Jennie Reed, Dotsie Bausch and Lauren Tamayo. That journey was a special one and is one I will remember for the rest of my life.”