Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Velodrome, London Velopark, Olympic Park, Stratford, London
Date Started: August 3, 2012
Date Finished: August 4, 2012
Like women's team sprint and keirin, the women's team pursuit event was held for the first time in Olympic history in 2012. Since the sport had been introduced to the World Championships in 2008, Great Britain had won the title every year except for 2010 and were considered not only the favorites, but in a league all of their own. Of the three riders in London, Joanna Rowsell had been to every World Championship, except in 2011, while Dani King and Laura Trott had joined the squad in 2011. The Australians had been the only nation to take the world title away from them and, although only Josephine Tomic remained from that trio, that nation was considered the most likely challenger to Britain at the Games.
Britain proved their dominance throughout the event, setting world records in every round of competition. The United States team, consisting of Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch, Jennie Reed, had unexpectedly won a silver medal in the discipline at the 2011 World Championships and continued to surprise by posting a faster time than Australia in the qualifying heats. In the semifinals the United States caused one of the biggest upsets in the cycling tournament by edging out Australia by just over eight one-hundredths of a second and stealing their spot in the gold medal match. Bausch was perhaps the star of the American team; a former runway model, she had abused drugs and suffered from anorexia for many years before turning her life around following a suicide attempt where she walked into highway traffic in the middle of the night. She took up cycling as part of her recovery and found moderate success as a professional road racer prior to shifting focus to track cycling and boosting the Americans' performance abroad since 2009.
In the final Reed was replaced by Lauren Tamayo, in hopes that a fresh rider would give the Americans a chance at the gold, but it was to no avail. The British women posted their third world record time in the event, a blistering 3:14.051, and won the race by nearly six seconds, an incredible margin of victory for a gold medal match in the discipline. The bronze medal match was much closer, with the Canadians denying Australia a podium position by nearly two-tenths of a second. Notably, both teams posted faster times in this round than the Americans did in the final, but Canada would still have been just shy of four seconds slower than Great Britain.