Tracy Barnes Captures the Olympic Spirit

Tracy Barnes Captures the Olympic Spirit


I love the Olympics. I love what it stands for. I love the competition. I love the human interest stories. I love rooting for my country in some obscure sport that I only get to watch once every 4 years.

One of those obscure sports is the Biathlon, which combines cross country skiing and shooting proficiency. It is an odd pairing, but I watch it during the Olympics and root like crazy for these Olympians who have trained their entire lives for this one moment. A bit odd, huh?

This year, Tracy Barnes competed in the Olympic trials to qualify for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. She qualified, capturing the final spot on the United States Olympic Team.  However, she decided to give up her spot on the team. Why? Her twin sister, Lanny had taken ill just prior to the Olympic trials and could not compete. Tracy felt that her sister had a better year than her and deserved her spot.  “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.”

In a chocked up voice Lanny had this to say about the act of kindness from her sister, “How can I ever thank someone enough for doing this. She gave me a second chance. It changed my life forever.” So, with the USA on the back of her jersey, her sister watching from the crowd and me cheering from my chair, Lanny finished in 64th place at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Author’s Perspective: I believe that Tracy Barnes captures the Olympic spirit. Tracy valued fairness and her relationship with her sister more than competing in the Olympics. She didn’t think it was right that her sister’s sickness kept her off the Olympic team, especially since Lanny had consistently beat her throughout the year. It was a selfless act. It was an act of kindness, love and compassion. Tracy sacrificed her dream so that Lanny could live out hers. It’s the kind of gesture that puts a tear in my eye eye and makes me reflect on what really matters. I hope it does the same for you too.

Your Turn: Please place your comments below and (2) like and share our Facebook page (character development & leadership) or (3) tweet to @CDandLeadership using #olympicspirit):

1) Could you ever sacrifice your dreams to help someone else fulfill their dreams? Who would it be? Why?

2) Does this story inspire you? Why or why not?

3) What small or large sacrifice have you made for someone else?



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