In 2003, Sarah Hammer was 20 years old, and, like many 20-year-olds, she was growing tired of the childhood routine. Having cycled competitively since her preteen years, Hammer decided to call it quits.
Flash forward one year, and, like many-a 21-year-old, Hammer realized her 20-year-old self may have been a bit hasty.
Watching her peers prosper at the 2004 Athens Olympics didn't help, and the resulting combination of ennui and latent competitive drive pushed her back into the sport.
Good call, 21-year-old Sarah.
These days, the California native is one of the world's best female track cyclists—a four-time world champion in the individual pursuit, who last year became the first American to win three medals at a cycling world championship.
The London Games this summer will mark her second Olympic appearance after finishing fifth in the individual pursuit in '08, and this time she's got a little secret sauce behind her podium push.
Hammer recently began training with an innovative Web-based blood-monitoring and nutritional service called InsideTracker. The service provides instant feedback on a client's nutrient balance to help determine the best dietary intake.
Check out the link above for more info on InsideTracker. And for more info on Sarah, check out her below interview with B/R.
1) So when you quit cycling in 2003, what was the life plan?
I just wanted to live life. I went back to school. I worked some odd jobs and just tried to see what life was like not in athletics.
2) Going from Beijing, where track cycling really isn’t a marquee event, to London, where it will be a huge attraction, how do you think this Olympic competition will feel different for you?
Obviously it’s going to be a very important event for track cycling. As you said, in Beijing it wasn’t a very popular event. For London it’s going to be one of the premier events. It’s very exciting for us as track cyclists.
Going to the velodrome in February for the test event, it was kind of the confirmation of how big this is going to be when we go into the Olympic park and see the velodrome right there. It’s going to be huge for us...it’s just going to be loud and exciting.
3) What’s the worst spill you’ve ever taken on a bike?
You know on the track it looks scary, but we’re all professionals and that’s what we do. The worst part about crashing on the track is the splinters. Because it’s a wood track…I still have a splinter in my hip from a race in Moscow back when I was 18 years old. That’s kind of the nastiest thing.
4) Are you an adrenaline junkie, someone that likes to go fast? Or do you just like cycling and this happens to be how cycling works?
Obviously I love cycling. That was my love from the beginning. I wouldn’t say I went into cycling for the adrenaline side of it. But of course, I like to go fast. I like roller coasters. I like to drive fast. I like to ride fast. I don’t know if I’d call myself and adrenaline junkie, but I definitely don’t like to do things slow.
5) What was the wildest thing you saw at the Olympic village in 2008?
One of the funniest things was, we have a McDonald’s in the food eating area and it would always be the gymnasts who were in there. Not the American gymnasts, but a lot of times the Chinese gymnasts. I thought that was really funny. The tiniest sport was the only that ate the most [fast food].