By Tim HippsFebruary 17, 2010
WHISTLER, British Columbia, Canada (Feb. 17, 2010) -- U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program biathlete Sgt. Jeremy Teela was penalized for starting early and finished 24th in the Olympic men's 12.5-kilometer pursuit race Tuesday.
Teela was penalized 22 seconds but still led four Americans with a time of 35 minutes, 45.4 seconds.
Sweden's Bjorn Ferry, who was supposed to start eighth and one spot ahead of Teela, rallied from a 1-minute, 12-second starting deficit to win the gold medal with a time of 33 minutes, 38.4 seconds at Whistler Olympic Park.
Summan Christoph of Austria took the silver medal with a time of 33:54.9. France's Vincent Jay, who on Sunday won the men's 10-kilometer sprint, claimed the bronze in 34:06.6.
Teela, who was penalized 22 seconds for leaving the starting area two positions early, realized something was wrong when he arrived at the shooting range in seventh place without passing anyone. He was scheduled to start ninth, 1:14 behind top-seeded Jay.
"I was in number seven, and I was bib nine, and I had passed nobody on the course," Teela said. "That's when I realized that something was wrong. I saw the Swedish guy pass me on the third loop, and that's when I knew that he wasn't sitting out of the race and they actually started me too soon."
"They gave me a countdown," Teela said. "They said 'go.' I left. That's what I do - I'm a racer."
Teela's official time was 35:45.4 - 2:07 behind gold medalist Ferry. Teela nailed all 10 of his targets from the prone position but missed four while standing.
"Halfway through the race when I realized this was happening, it just zapped the energy from me," he said. "It just mentally kind of drains the will out of you."
"But we've got a couple more races this week... I think we'll be alright."