Skip to content

Biathlete Tracy Barnes gives up her Olympic Team spot to twin sister

Jan 14, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

Lanny Barnes, Tracy Barnes Getty Images

Tracy Barnes could think of only one greater honor than making the U.S. Olympic Team.

Letting her twin sister go instead.

Barnes, 31, earned a spot on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team following last weekend’s final qualifying races. She declined it to allow the woman next in line to go to Sochi.

That woman was Lanny Barnes.

Lanny fell ill over the weekend, missed three of the final four selection races in Italy, and her hopes of going to a third Olympics vanished. Five women go to the Olympics. Lanny was just out of the running until Tracy informed her of a decision she made before that final race.

“Love is selfless dedication,” Tracy said, according to 3 Wire Sports. “Love means giving up your dream so someone else can realize theirs.”

Tracy, a 2006 Olympian and five minutes younger than Lanny, knew the weight of her choice — a “heavy situation” — and wanted to give her sister a second chance.

They hiked in the mountains after the final race Sunday. That’s where Tracy told Lanny of her choice, which was received by protest from Lanny and tears from both, according to 3 Wire Sports.

“As the old saying goes, ‘Only the strong will survive,'” Tracy said, according to US Biathlon. “Most of the time, that is the case. On occasion the strong don’t survive for whatever reason. And that is what I feel happened to Lanny. She’s having a stellar season and she bound to do great things this year, but she fell ill during the trials and couldn’t race. Because of that she didn’t make the team. While most people would say, ‘That’s biathlon,’ or, ‘That’s life,’ — and they’d be absolutely correct in saying that — but what if that person who was hit with a little bit of bad luck got a second chance? What if someone believed in them enough to give them that chance? Well, that’s what I did.”

Tracy emailed her friends and family Monday, according to the Durango (Colo.) Herald.

“I think that her selfless act encompasses what an Olympian truly is,” Lanny said, according to US Biathlon. “Often times during the hype of the Games we forget what the Olympics are really about. They aren’t about the medals and the fame and all of that. The Olympics are about inspiration, teamwork, excellence and representation. I can think of no better example of the true Olympic spirit than what Tracy.”

Lanny, who has trained with her twin for 15 years, relishes the opportunity.

“It’s not every day that you are given a second chance like this,” Lanny said. “I thought my chance at the Olympics was over, but now I’ve got a second chance and will do everything I can to bring honor to her and our country in Russia.”

It’s often said the Olympics are about more than medals, that they are about taking part, sportsmanship and fair play.

“The Olympics are about more than just winning gold, or even competing,” Tracy said. “They are about friendship, cooperation, sacrifice, and a whole host of other things. Lanny is my best friend and my teammate. I see how hard she works on a daily basis, so I know first hand that she is deserving of a spot on the Olympic Team. If I can be the one to give her that opportunity, than that is an honor and a sacrifice that I am willing to make.”

Meet the U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team

Latest Posts
  1. Carlin Isles talks about emotional start to rugby career (video)

    Sep 4, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    Carlin Isles Getty Images

    The U.S. will play Australia live on NBCSN and Live Extra on Saturday.

  2. U.S. Olympic men’s soccer coach talks over-age players

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:53 PM EDT

    Andi Herzog Getty Images

    If the U.S. qualifies for Rio, it can name three men to the roster over age 23.

  3. Hayward Field may soon be upgraded (rendering photo)

    Sep 4, 2015, 2:49 PM EDT

    Hayward Field

    The upgrade would happen after the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

  4. Olympian attaches GoPro to javelin (video)

    Sep 4, 2015, 1:24 PM EDT

    GoPro Javelin

    First, a pole vaulter. Now, a javelin thrower.

  5. IOC pledges $2 million fund to help refugees

    Sep 4, 2015, 1:06 PM EDT

    Olympic flag

    The IOC called it an “emergency” fund.

  6. Aries Merritt home after successful kidney transplant (photos)

    Sep 4, 2015, 7:57 AM EDT

    Aries Merritt AP

    Merritt left the hospital less than a week after winning a bronze medal in Beijing.

  7. Andre De Grasse stays in school

    Sep 3, 2015, 4:46 PM EDT

    Andre De Grasse AP

    Canadian sprint sensation plans to compete collegiately in 2015-16.

  8. Mixed results for World champions in Zurich

    Sep 3, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce AP

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, David Rudisha and Wayde van Niekerk were among the Beijing stars in Diamond League action.

  9. Check out the Rio Olympic mountain bike course (video)

    Sep 3, 2015, 12:08 PM EDT

    Rio Olympic mountain bike course

    The course designer attached a camera to his helmet and traversed the dirt, rocks, going over a bridge and through a tunnel.

  10. U.S. shooters begin earning Olympic berths

    Sep 3, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT

    Michael McPhail Getty Images

    The 2016 U.S. Olympic team is now at eight athletes across all sports.

  11. Jeremy Abbott to sit out figure skating season

    Sep 2, 2015, 4:02 PM EDT

    Jeremy Abbott AP

    The four-time U.S. champion isn’t retiring yet.

  12. Los Angeles’ ties to the Olympics

    Sep 2, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Some of the names most associated with Los Angeles professional sports teams are Olympians.

  13. Five events to watch at Zurich Diamond League

    Sep 2, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Tori Bowie Getty Images

    One event includes 2015 World champions from three different events.

  14. Mesut Özil open to Rio Olympics, but German coach dismisses

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Mesut Ozil Getty Images

    “I can hardly imagine that it is possible given the schedule.”

  15. Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid is official

    Sep 1, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT

    Los Angeles 2024 logo

    Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome previously announced bids.

  16. Kerri Walsh Jennings done for season after this week

    Sep 1, 2015, 1:51 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Walsh Jennings and April Ross will have little to no wiggle room in Olympic qualifying next year.

  17. Can Venus Williams qualify for a fifth Olympics?

    Sep 1, 2015, 12:36 PM EDT

    Venus Williams AP

    She could become the second oldest Olympic singles player since the sport returned to the Games in 1988.

  18. Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo scrapped after plagiarism allegations

    Sep 1, 2015, 8:58 AM EDT

    Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo AP

    A competition will be held to pick a new logo.

  19. Top ten storylines from World Track and Field Championships

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:20 PM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Mo Farah AP

    Olympic champions came through and potential future Olympic stars broke out.