SOCHI, Russia – The last time U.S. biathlete Lanny Barnes saw her twin sister, Tracy, both were in tears. Tracy was headed home, after giving up her Olympic spot to her sister. The act of selfless love touched the hearts of many across the nation and beyond.
The sisters said goodbye and didn't think they would see each other until Lanny returned from the Games. Given the cost of travel, and pricey hotels, Tracy would cheer her sister on from her Durango, Colo. home.
But thanks from the generosity of others, the sisters were reunited Friday morning, hours before Lanny's 15K individual race.
"I just saw Tracy for the first time in about a month this morning," Lanny Barnes wrote in an email. "She flew in right before my race. I was so excited to see her and can't tell you how much it means to me to have her here. I feel so much better and more motivated now that she is here to cheer me on. Can't wait to get out there and race for her."
Tracy's gun sponsor, ATI, paid for her plane ticket and her college, Columbia Southern University, and U.S. Biathlon helped with the housing.
"I'm super excited to watch Lanny race. I'll probably get really nervous," Tracy said soon after landing on Thursday night. "I get more nervous watching her compete than competing myself. I'm so happy and excited for her. She's going to do great. A lot of people have supported her and are behind her and that will give her wings."
Last month at U.S. Olympic trials, Lanny was sick and unable to compete in all the selection races. Tracy was named to the team but decided to decline her spot so Lanny could be named in her place. Tracy felt her sister had a better year and deserved the spot more.
Fittingly, today's race falls on Valentine's Day. "It's been an amazing reaction," Tracy said. "I think people can relate to wanting to give someone a second chance and wanting to do something good for someone they care about."