Four years ago, Hammer made headlines when she and her teammates arrived in China wearing masks to filter the polluted air. The gesture so insulted the host country that the U.S. Olympic Committee, which issued the masks to the athletes, made the women apologize.
To add further insult, her event was eliminated shortly after the Beijing Games.
"But once it was over and done with, it was over and done with," Hammer said. "I moved on, and I would say I moved on pretty well."
Her definition of pretty well includes a silver medal in the women's omnium event Tuesday, marking the highest finish for an American woman in an individual cycling event. Coupled with her earlier silver in the team pursuit, Hammer is now the most decorated female cyclist in U.S. history.
Often called the decathlon of cycling, the omnium, which is making its Olympic debut here, is mix of six endurance and sprint events over two days. Points are awarded by the athlete's finish in each race, with one point for first, two points for second, three points for third and so on.
With Prince Harry and other royal family members watching, Hammer lost to reigning world champion Laura Trott of Britain by one point. Leading by two points going into the final 500-meter time trial, Hammer finished fourth in the blistering race and ended up second overall.
Annette Edmondson of Australia placed third.
Though Hammer came within a fraction of a second of a gold medal, she refused to view the silver as a consolation prize.
"For the last few years I've been dedicating myself to this omnium event, and right now I am the proud owner of two of these silver medals," she said. "It's a dream that I've had since I was 10 years old."
Hammer's final race took place amid deafening cheers in the saddle-shaped Velodome, where the cycling-mad host country expects its athletes to stand atop every podium. Britain won seven of 10 cycling gold medals at these Games, solidifying its position as the sport's powerhouse.
Shortly after the omnium, Chris Hoy won the sixth gold medal of his career to become Britain's most decorated Olympian in any sport. The cycling legend wept as his national anthem played in tribute to his final race.
"I'm in shock," he said. "I'm trying to take it all in, but this is surreal. It is what I always wanted — to win gold in front of my home crowd. I can't express the feelings I'm having right now. It's just the most amazing feeling. It's the perfect end to my Olympic career."
Hammer said she would like to see some of Britain's enthusiasm for cycling take root in the United States. Given the U.S. women's team's two medals — including the first individual podium finish in 20 years — she contends there's no better time to grow the sport.
"I hope this gets the ball rolling for everyone at home," she said. "It's go time."
First, however, she needs to focus on getting her medals home.
"I better hope to make the weight limit on my suitcase," she said, "because these babies are heavy."