By Mr. Tim Hipps (FMWRC)February 19, 2010
WHISTLER, British Columbia, Feb. 19, 2010 - U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program biathlete Sgt. Jeremy Teela of the Vermont National Guard sat out the Olympic men's 20-kilometer individual race yesterday because of illness.
"I came down with something last night, and this morning my sinuses were all jammed up," Teela said via telephone. "I went for a little workout this morning before breakfast, and I wasn't going to be good enough to compete at this level, so I'm taking a break and letting one of the other guys compete."
Wynn Roberts, 21, of Battle Lake, Minn., substituted for Teela, who was scheduled to start 18th among 88 competitors.
"He's a younger guy, but he's really talented," Teela said of Roberts. "He hasn't had a chance yet to race, and he probably wasn't going to, but I think he'll do fine covering my spot."
Teela said he hopes he has only a head cold.
"I'm not sure, but it's enough where I can tell there's a difference in my body," he said. "When something is messed up just a little bit, at this level, an athlete can feel it. I wouldn't be affected driving, but for what we do, it's different."
Teela led Team USA's four competitors with a ninth-place finish in the 10-kilometer sprint Feb. 14 and a 24th-place finish in the 12.5-kilometer pursuit Feb. 16. He had even higher hopes for yesterday's event.
"I'm throttled," he said. "This is a really important race. It's one of the bigger chances we have as a team. We have five chances here. But this one, out of all our chances, is the real deal, so I'm just disappointed."
Teela, 33, of Heber City, Utah, planned to watch the race on television.
"I will watch it, but watching it is the worst pain I can imagine," Teela said of having to watch in place of competing. "But I've got to watch it, because I've got to support these guys."
Teela said he expects to be ready for the 15k mass-start relay event scheduled Feb. 21.
"I'm sure I'll be fine for the relay," Teela said. "Hopefully, I can kick this by then."