Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

My sister's keeper: A Winter's tale to warm all of our hearts

Lanny Barnes will be at the Winter Olympics thanks to an amazing gesture from her twin sister Tracy

Here's a test for you. Name FIVE moments you can remember from the Winter Olympics. Trust me, they are inside your head. And no, Dancing on Ice doesn't count! Struggling? Okay I'll help you out a little.

For starters what about Torvill and Dean's perfect Bolero routine 30 years ago? From the sublime to the ridiculous surely you will recall Eddie the Eagle ski-jumping and the Jamaican bob-sleigh team.

There was the brilliance of Franz Klammer and Alberto Tomba on the ski slopes and the bitterness between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan on the ice.

And in 1980 when the USA ice hockey team, made up of mostly amateurs, defeated hot favourites Russia 4-3 to win gold at Lake Placid it was one of the biggest upsets in sporting history.

Imagine six blokes in your neighbourhood beating the Belfast Giants at the Odyssey and multiply by 100 and you'll get the idea!

I mention all of the above because the 2014 Winter Olympics are upon us with the opening ceremony taking place tomorrow in the Russian city of Sochi.

They may not win gold like our own Robin Dixon in the bobsleigh at Innsbruck in 1964, but here's to the Northern Ireland competitors, skater Jenna McCorkell, snowboarder Aimee Fuller and alpine skier Florence Bell all faring well and enjoying the experience.

Let's hope an American biathlete called Lanny Barnes has the time of her life too.

You probably won't know this 31-year-old lady or her twin sister Tracy, but their story is a winter's tale worth telling.

Here's the background: Lanny and Tracy have been competing in the biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, for 15 years, the highlight of which was representing their country at the Winter Olympics.

This year they accepted was going to be their last shot at the Games.

Unfortunately in qualifying for Sochi, Lanny fell ill, was unable to compete and didn't make the squad. In contrast Tracy shone and was selected for the American team.

Get the hankies out because Tracy then decided to give up her spot in the Olympics so that her sister, who was next in line, could go to the Games.

Initially Lanny declined telling her sister than she had earned her place, but Tracy was insistent believing that on this occasion the Olympics meant more to her twin and that having had a fine season she deserved to make the trip to Sochi.

"I think when you care enough about someone you're willing to make that kind of sacrifice,'' Tracy said when asked why she did it.

Cynics may scoff, but I love this sort of stuff. Must be the romantic in me.

Lanny will dedicate her performance at the Winter Olympics to her selfless sibling, saying: "Tracy is my hero and has shown true selflessness and the Olympic spirit.

"This has motivated me even more to not only represent my country but to represent her as well."

Go on girl, win a medal and end this story on a Hollywood high.

Can't wait to see who plays the Colorado based twins in the movie.

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