Olympic cycling champ Sarah Hammer, a Temecula resident, took her positive message about hard work and perseverance Tuesday to Red Hawk Elementary School in Temecula, urging students to work hard, never give up and be a team player.
“To be successful in anything you want to do, you have to put in a lot of hard work. Never give up. Sooner or later you will get there,” Hammer, 29, told a group of students at the school during her visit Tuesday.
As she spoke in the multi-purpose room, Hammer shared with students a short slideshow that included photos of her at the recent London Olympics, where she won two silver medals.
Hammer wore the meals around her neck during her visit and let the curious students touch them as they left the MPR on their way back to class.
Hammer also told the Red Hawk students that at the previous Olympics four years ago, she was in a track collision and broke her collarbone, leaving her with a disappointing fifth-place finish. What she learned from that, Hammer said, is that sometimes things don’t work out.
Principal Marc Horton asked Hammer if she ever felt like giving up.
“I shed a lot of tears after this happened and wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with riding,” Hammer told the students. She said she took some time away from cycling, “Then I realized why I fell in love with cycling to begin with.”
Horton said the school invited Hammer to share her messages with students as a character-building exercise.
“She’s an excellent role model. Our focus this month is on hard work and she’s a perfect example of that,” Horton explained.
Hammer spoke a little about the sport of cycling, the records she has set, how her special bike works on a track, and how fast she goes (40 mph). She explained that for the London Olympics, she trained six days a week for three or four hours in the mornings and then trained another three or four hours after lunch and a short nap. She also said it’s important to surround yourself with people who support you and your dreams.
In some cases, sports require teamwork, she continued. “A team event is not about being the fastest individual. It’s about being the fastest team.”
At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Hammer won a team silver medal in the Women’s team pursuit and an individual silver medal in the Women’s Omnium, a series of six endurance and sprint races that unfolded over two days. Hammer said she is contemplating riding for the gold in the 2016 Olympics.
On a side note, Hammer told the students that sometimes she gets to do special things. Last Friday, Sept. 14, Hammer was invited to the White House and got to meet President Obama and his wife, as well as Vice President Joe Biden.
Hammer said: “That was really cool.”
Amy Bentley is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.