After years of cycling, Hammer was burned out and left the sport two years after becoming an elite rider. With no plan of returning to the sport, she even sold most of her equipment. However, after watching her former teammates compete at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, she returned to the sport she loved. “I needed to step away from it to realize how much I loved it,” says Hammer.
Hammer began cycling when she was 8 years old after being introduced by her father. “I was 9 when I got a race bike that I really wanted and I loved it,” says Hammer. As she grew older, Hammer continued her training and eventually won her first junior national. In high school, Hammer began to see greater improvement and focused more on the sport in order to get even better.
Shortly after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the International Cycling Union ended individual pursuit, Hammer’s staple discipline, as an Olympic event. Hammer had to readjust and train for the newly adopted team pursuit event instead.
BORN: August 18, 1983
HOMETOWN: Temecula, CA
HEIGHT: 5 ft 7 in
WEIGHT: 145 lb
COLLEGE: Palomar College
OLYMPIC MEDALS: 2012 Olympic games, 2 silver medals (team pursuit, omnium)
OTHER TITLES/NOTABLE WINS: 2016 World Championships, Gold Medalist (team pursuit), Bronze (omnium)
The Olympic track cycling team pursuit event consists of riding around a banked track—only millimeters from the wheels of your teammates. To add complexity, track bikes don’t coast, have no brakes, and require a significant amount of trust and hours of practice with teammates. “I love working as a team,” says Hammer. “I love the dynamics that come with racing together and the closeness that you feel.”
After a 12-year drought in track cycling medals for the United States, Hammer brought home two silver medals in the 2012 London Olympic Games. “After winning silver medals in 2012, my plan has always been to win a gold medal. I didn’t want to just qualify, I wanted to win,” says Hammer.
When Hammer isn’t training, she enjoys hiking with her German Shepherd, reading, exploring new places, and studying Geography.