WHISTLER, British Columbia -- U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program biathlete Sgt. Jeremy Teela battled illness to finish 29th in the Olympic men's 15-kilometer mass start Sunday at Whistler Olympic Park.

Russia's Evgeny Ustyugov shot cleanly throughout the race and won the gold medal with a time of 35 minutes, 35.7 seconds. France's Martin Fourcade took the silver in 35:46.2. Slovakia's Pavol Hurajt claimed the bronze with a time of 35:52.3

Teela missed two of 10 targets from both the prone and standing shooting positions and finished in 38:36.1. He was 3:00.4 behind the champion.

"I'm tired," said Teela, who missed the 20-kilometer individual race Feb. 16 because of illness. "I felt really good yesterday and did some training. I even felt pretty good today, but maybe I'm still a little sick. A couple days ago maybe took a little more out of me than I thought, but I'm not far away."

"I had four days of rest and I did not go out for a ski during that time, so I just jumped into the race today. My shape was a little bit off. After the second loop, I was zapped; I hit a wall. It's not the raced I wanted. I've just got to review it in the next couple hours, then forget about it and prep for the relay."

Teela is confident that another day of rest and some speed training will prepare him for Friday's 4x7.5-kilometer relay, the last of five Olympic races in the cross-country skiing and shooting event.

Teela led Team USA's four competitors in the first two races, sat out the third, and finished 29th in his fourth race. He remains hopeful about the relay, his final competition in the 2010 games.

"It's a race where anything can happen, but it's a four-man race so all four guys need to be on their 'A' game. Sometimes it's difficult to put that together, but I think the other two guys [who didn't compete in the mass start] will be rested up pretty well and hopefully I'll figure out myself."

Tim Burke, the fourth man scheduled to race in the relay also competed in the mass start, finishing 18th, 1:09 behind Ustyugov. He missed four shots from the standing position.

Burke thinks the relay race will be Team USA's best shot at winning a medal.

"I think it will be our best chance that we've had," he said. "Jeremy's had some really good races here and Lowell (Bailey) has had some super shooting races. The relay is really mostly about shooting so anything can happen."

"There are a lot of teams who can be up there and we're definitely one of those teams. We're going to do everything that we possibly can. Our top result is a fifth on the World Cup and we've been within striking distance of the podium a few times. We'll give it our best."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16