Temecula resident Sarah Hammer won an Olympic silver medal in women’s team pursuit cycling today as she and her U.S. teammates fell to a world-record setting performance by Great Britain at the Velodrome at London’s Olympic Park.
The British team of Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell was timed in three minutes, 14.051 seconds for the 3,000-meter race, breaking the previous record of 3:14.682 it set in its first-round victory over Canada earlier today.
The British team has set world records in six consecutive races.
The U.S. team of Hammer, Dotsie Bausch of Irvine and Lauren Tamayo of Asheville, N.C., finished in 3:19.406.
The Americans earned their spot in the gold medal race by defeating Australia in the first round, overcoming a 1.7-second deficit.
Hammer, Bausch and Jennie Reed of Seattle trailed by 1.161 seconds after one kilometer and 1.128 after two kilometers, but with Hammer on the front, the team rode the final kilometer in 1:04.620, completing the race in 3:16.853, breaking the unofficial American record of 3:19.406 it set in qualifying on Friday.
The Australian team of Annette Edmonson, Melissa Hoskins and Josephine Tomic was timed in 3:16.935.
“Our goal was to keep it within range and then launch it at the end and we did that,” the 29-year-old Hammer said. “We knew it was going to be a race to the finish and it doesn’t matter until crossing that finish line.”
In team pursuit, which was held for women in the Olympics for the first time, the two opposing teams start on either side of the track. The winner is the team that catches the other team or records the fastest time. A team is caught when the opposing team comes within one meter of the other.
Hammer, who graduated from Chaparral High School in 2000, will race once more in the London Olympics, competing in the omnium, a two-day event beginning Monday, where riders compete against each other in six different elements on the track.
Hammer won a silver medal in the omnium in the 2011 UCI Track World Championships and won the event at the 2012 London Olympic Test Event.
Hammer retired from cycling in 2003, but was inspired to return to the sport after watching the 2004 Olympics on television.
Hammer was fifth in the individual pursuit race in the 2008 Olympics and failed to finish the points race.