When Sarah Ulmer decided to become a cyclist, she had the job ahead of her to live up to her family's achievements. Her grandfather, Ron, represented New Zealand as a track cyclist at the 1938 Empire Games and her father, Gary, was a national road and track champion.

But Sarah Ulmer did her family traditions proud and became New Zealand's first Olympic cycling gold medallist when she won the 3000m individual pursuit at Athens in 2004.

At Auckland's Diocesan School for Girls, Ulmer shone at a range of sports, but cycling drew her.

In 1994 she won junior world titles in Ecuador in the individual pursuit and the points race. That same year, when only 18, she won the individual pursuit silver medal at the Victoria Commonwealth Games.

She had a good work ethic, was well coached by her father and had a perfect temperament – tungsten-tough while competing, and bubbly, enthusiastic and modest off the track.

Competing at her first Olympics, at Atlanta in 1996, she was seventh in the 3000m individual pursuit in 3min 43.176s. By 1998, she was one of the major figures in her sport, and won the Commonwealth Games gold medal at Kuala Lumpur in 3min 41.667s. Two years later at the Sydney Olympics, when she was not in the best of health, she was shaded for the bronze medal.

At Manchester in 2002, she retained her Commonwealth Games title, recording a lightning fast 3min 32.467s. Assisted by boyfriend and former New Zealand cycling representative Brendon Cameron, her rate of improvement quickened.

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Sarah's Games History