After finishes of 35th in the sprint and 38th in the pursuit, U.S. biathlete Lowell Bailey was an unhappy man in Sochi. He took his tough race in the pursuit especially hard, saying he was the most disappointed that he’d ever been after it.
“I was just so down,” he said today in a release. “You spend your whole life working for something then see it fall apart in a matter of 35 minutes. It can really beat you down if you don’t step back and gain some perspective.”
Luckily for him, he would get that perspective in a post-race visit with his mother.
“I think that was the first step to getting back mentally and understanding where I was, what this is all about, and what I’m here to do,” he said.
Today, he achieved the best-ever Olympic individual finish in U.S. biathlon history, placing eighth in today’s 20km individual.
The swing of emotions he had, from the disastrous pursuit to the confidence-restoring individual, was what he called “the textbook definition of biathlon.”
“One day, you can be at the bottom and the other day you can be at the top, which for me was in a matter of 72 hours,” he said.
Bailey missed just one shot out of 20 across the four shooting portions of the 20km and turned in a time of 50:57.4, which was 1:25.7 behind gold medal winner Martin Fourcade of France.
He wasn’t completely sure of how he was doing until he was on his last circuit around the course.
“It wasn’t until the fifth loop, when I witnessed the emotion of one of our staff members, that I knew it was a good race,” he said.
“I had a feeling it was a good race, because you kind of know how you are doing on the course, and then hitting 19 of 20 [targets] – you hope that’s good enough to do something.”