Track Worlds: US women make history with team pursuit gold

(Photo Above) US riders Kelly Catlin, Chloe Dygert, Jennifer Valente and Sarah Hammer celebrate after winning the women’s team pursuit final. (Getty Images Sport)
Author: Pat Malach

Team USA fall three seconds short of world record while storming Lee Valley Velodrome for first-ever Worlds team pursuit championship.

With the star-and-stripes draped over their shoulders on the infield of the Lee Valley Velodrome at the UCI Track World Championships in London, the significance of their accomplishment slowly began to sink in among the four US riders who had just achieved the country’s first-ever world championship in the team pursuit.

Sarah Hammer, Chloe Dygert, Kelly Catlin and Jennifer Valente sailed into gold by nearly three seconds over the runners-up from Canada, covering the final round in 4:16.802 to the Canadians’ 4:19.525.

“I’ve been waiting my whole career to get a gold medal with the team,” Hammer said before receiving her medal. “What better place to do it. It’s the first medal for the United States in women’s or men’s team pursuit, so it’s a very special night for us.”

Hammer attributed the success to the emphasis on teamwork.

“This is a special group,” she said. “You don’t do what we did tonight without a special group. We are a team in the whole sense of the word, and I think that showed in all three of our rides. It’s very special.”

The US riders topped the rankings through the two days of competition, setting the best mark of 4:16.180 in the qualifying round on Thursday. The effort was a new US national record, but it too would fall during Friday’s first round, when the team rode to a new mark of 4:14.806. The US riders were hard-pressed by the British team in the round as the Britons also set their own national record at 4:16.350.

Canada won their heat against New Zealand to set up an all North American final in the evening session. It wasn’t so easy for the squad as they nearly lost their third rider on the final lap. It appeared the New Zealand riders were about to ride into the final, but the Canadians rallied to take the victory by just 0.003 seconds.

Although hopes among the US team of breaking the Australians’ world record of 4:13.683 fell by the wayside, their historic effort won the day and the rainbow jerseys.


One of the most decorated cyclists in U.S. history, Sarah Hammer has won two Olympic silver medals at the 2012 London Games, seven UCI World Championship titles, eleven UCI World Championship medals and currently holds the world record in the 3-kilometer individual pursuit on the track.

Her 2012 Olympic medal haul broke a 12-year drought in track cycling medals won by American athletes. And she’s not done yet. Sarah aims to ride for gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Amazingly, one of the most remarkable American track cycling careers almost never took place. Burned out from the rigors of competitive cycling, Sarah quit the sport in 2003 after just two years as an elite rider. With no plans to return, she sold most of her equipment, went back to school and worked a variety of unfulfilling jobs.

As fate would have it, Sarah was inspired to make a comeback after watching her former teammates and competitors race on track cycling’s grandest stage at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Later that year, Sarah returned to the bike at age 20 with a renewed sense of purpose, focus and commitment. She has gone on to set two world records — in the individual pursuit and as part of the team pursuit — and in 2011 became the first American woman to win three medals at a UCI Track Cycling World Championships.

Sarah’s pursuit of perfection goes beyond the international awards and accolades she has collected in track cycling. In addition to being at the top of the sport, she strives to live a balanced life by spending time off the bike sharpening her mind and spirit by reading, hiking with her German Shepherd, Dolça and exploring new places. Sarah studies world geography and how it relates, among other things, to cultures, languages and politics. She also donates her time and supports multiple organizations that focus on youth development, most notably Classroom Champions.


Temecula , CA


135 lbs.

Track, Road Sprinting

Reading , Hiking with her Dogs, Skiing

Career Highlights

World Record Holder 3K Individual Pursuit – 3:22.2

Two-time Olympic Silver Medalist

Seven-time World Track Cycling Champion

2008, 2012 United States Olympic Team





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