By Tim Hipps, FMWRCFebruary 19, 2010
WHISTLER, British Columbia (Feb. 19, 2010) -- U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program biathlete Sgt. Jeremy Teela sat out the Olympic men's 20-kilometer individual race Thursday 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."
"Hopefully, I'll be good to go on Sunday."
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. "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 hopes he only has 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 on Sunday and a 24th-place finish in the 12.5-kilometer pursuit on Tuesday. He had even higher hopes for Thursday'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 from a couch. "But I've got to watch it because I've got to support these guys."
"I'm sure I'll be fine for the relay," Teela said. "And if I'm lucky enough, right now I'm in 24th place in qualifying for the mass start - hopefully six people don't get in front of me from today's race and put me out of the qualification for the mass start. Hopefully, I can kick this by then."