The 2014 Olympics are just around the corner, but even though Tracy Barnes qualified for a spot on the US Olympic Biathlon team, she has decided she doesn’t want to go. But this isn’t a story of injury, or a diva athlete, this is the story of a selfless act between twin sisters. Tracey is giving up her spot on the Olympic team so her twin sister Lanny, could go instead.
Lanny has been having an incredible year, but was sick for some of the Olympic team selection races. Her twin sister Tracey believes that Lanny had a better year and would have made the team if it weren’t for the bad timing of her illness.
“She had a stellar year,” Tracy tells USA Today. “She just had a bit of bad luck getting sick. I would have loved the opportunity to represent my country but it means more to me to give Lanny that chance.”
Lanny competed in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics placing 23rd in the 15-kilometer individual event – the best showing for a U.S. woman biathlete since 1994. Both sisters competed at the 2006 Turin games. They are both 31 and Sochi will most likely be their last shot at Olympic glory.
The two have always worked as a team, training and setting goals together. Both were competing with an eye on going to the Olympics, but Tracy made the decision because it was more important to her for Lanny to realize her goals.
“It’s just really a selfless thing to do,” said the twins’ mother, Deb Barnes, in a phone interview with the Durango Herald, minutes after she’d gotten off the phone from talking to Tracy, who is in the process of making her way back home from Europe. “She was fine with the decision.”
The trials for the U.S. biathlon team, a long process that began in 2013, ended Sunday at a race in Ridnaun, Italy. Lanny’s sickness meant she did not have enough trial results to make the team, although her overall results likely would have placed her ahead of her sister.
The sisters cried together when Tracy initially told Lanny about her decision. At first, Lanny said no but ended up agreeing. “She realized how much I wanted to do this for her,” Tracy says.
“It shows if you care enough about someone, you’re willing to sacrifice everything,” Lanny says. “It shows true Olympic spirit. The Olympics are not always about gold medals.”
This is the letter that Tracey wrote, explaining her decision:
Dear Family & Friends,