Ontario’s Connor Hammond might have won the National junior title earlier this year, but that didn’t make his life any easier once he got to PEI for the Canada Summer Games. With three members of the British Columbia team taking turns attacking the 19-year-old Guelph student, Hammond found himself hanging on.
“I wasn’t feeling very good,” Hammond says of the race. “When it came to the bike I was just hanging on. They were putting in lots of attacks to try and drop me.” Hammond would hang on for second behind BC’s Jeffrey Phillips, an impressive result considering the tactics being thrown at him.
It was yet another impressive race in a year that has been full of top performances. In May Hammond finished second at the Pan American Triathlon Championship and won the national title despite fighting a vicious cramp that put him well behind his BC competition at the half-way point of the run.
His season wrapped up with an 11th place and top-Canadian finish at the junior world championship, his third successive trip to the world championship. Hammond led out of the water (in his first world championship appearance in Germany he was last out of the water) and would be the top Canadian junior. Now reality sets in – Hammond has returned to school to get started on his Human Kinetics degree while continuing his training under Craig Taylor at the provincial training center in Guelph.
A member of Triathlon Canada’s 2009 National Development Team, it’s not really a surprise that Hammond has ended up in the world of triathlon. His mother, Sheri Fraser, is a three-time age group world champion, posted 20 top-10 Ironman finishes with a career high second place finish at Ironman Florida in 1999. Growing up Hammond and his twin Tyler couldn’t help but be introduced to the sport.
“The reason I got started was watching her do all the races,” says the former London Aquatic Club swimmer. “It totally inspired me to do things in the sport. I remember when I was 13 and I went to Len Gushe for coaching – one of my goals was to beat my mom.”
As if a competitive mom wasn’t enough, Hammond’s uncles are two of the most prominent race directors in North America – Graham Fraser founded North America Sports before selling the company to World Triathlon Corporation earlier this year, while Mitch Fraser is the race director of the Subaru Triathlon Series and Subaru Ironman 70.3 Muskoka.
“Mitch and Graham have had influence,” Hammond says. “It’s great to have those assets in your back yard. A couple of years ago we went to Boulder for a training camp and stayed at Graham’s house.”
In addition to his impressive family connections, Hammond has also managed to spend lots of time training with the sport’s elite. In 2008 he moved to Victoria for two months, roomed with Paul Tichelaar and trained with Simon Whitfield and other members of the national team. At just 17 Hammond struggled to keep up while biking or running, but watching the training and then seeing his former training partners compete at the Olympics provided ample motivation. The experience has helped mold his ultimate goal – to compete at the Olympics.
“That’s what’s driving me,” he says. “To someday represent Canada at the Olympics. I’ll only be 22 for the London games, so that might be too young. Watching them London – 22, might be too young.”
Hammond can’t help but envision an Ironman before his career is done, too.
“Ironman is at the very back of my mind right now,” he says. “At some point I’d like to do one. Maybe as I grow older and I move away from ITU racing. Every Ironman I go to it gets you really pumped up. All those years I’ve been doing it, I love it. I can see myself doing this for a long time.”-KM