Lanny Barnes makes Olympic team when twin gives up spot

Lanny Barnes, left, is going to the Olympics thanks to generosity of her twin, Tracy.

ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

It was a little late, but Tracy Barnes found the perfect Christmas gift for her twin sister, Lanny.

A spot on the U.S. Olympic biathlon team.

Going into last weekend’s final selection races, Lanny fell ill and was unable to compete in three of the four races, opening the door for Tracy to make the team.

But Tracy declined her nomination, resulting in Lanny being nominated to the team in her place.

"I can’t even begin to describe what it means to me that Tracy made such a huge sacrifice for me," said Lanny. "It’s hard to put into words what she did and what it means to me. We have been training together every day for the past 15 years, and I know how hard she has worked to make this team. I think that her selfless act encompasses what an Olympian truly is. 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 did this past weekend"

"I can think of no greater honor in the world than representing my country in the Olympics and it’s something that I’ve worked towards for over 15 years," Tracy said. "But the Olympics are about more than just winning gold, or even competing … 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, then that is an honor and a sacrifice that I am willing to make."

Both sisters have been competing for U.S. Biathlon since 2004 and have competed in previous Olympics. This will be the third Games for Lanny, whose previous best individual showing was a 23rd place finish in the 15 kilometer race in Vancouver. So while a place on the podium likely won’t be the end to this story, Lanny feels like she’s already won.

"€œIt’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."