DENVER -- When biathlete Tracy Barnes learned she had made the cut for the U.S. Olympic team, she turned and winked at her twin sister, Lanny.
After getting sick during the final qualifying races in Ridnaun, Italy, Lanny Barnes thought her Olympic dreams were over and assumed her sister was telling her she would race for her in Sochi.
It was only later on a walk in the Italian Alps that Tracy told her what was really on her mind: She would give up her spot on the team so Lanny, a three-time Olympian who finished just behind her, would qualify for the team and compete in Sochi instead.
"She is my hero and this only shows true selflessness and the Olympic spirit. This has motivated me even more to not only represent my country but to represent her as well," Lanny Barnes, 32, of Durango, Colo., told The Associated Press in an email Tuesday from Italy.
Tracy Barnes barely missed qualifying for the 2010 Olympics.
In a statement released by the team, Tracy Barnes said her sister had had a stellar season before falling ill and that she wanted to give her a second chance.
"Lanny is my best friend and my teammate. I see how hard she works on a daily basis, so I know firsthand that she is deserving of a spot on the Olympic Team," she said.
In an email to the AP, Tracy Barnes said the decision wasn't difficult because she believed in her heart that her sister deserved a spot on the team and that desire outweighed her own wish to join the Olympic team.
"If you care enough about a person you will make any sacrifice for them. Even if it means giving up your dreams so that they can realize theirs," she said.
She said she's not sure whether she'll make the trip to Sochi but promises to be her sister's biggest and loudest fan wherever she is.