SALT LAKE CITY, UT (Nexstar) — A year ago, three-time Olympic biathlete Lowell Bailey was ready to retire to spend more time with his wife and daughter.
But when an opportunity to continue training and travel with his family came along, he made an easy choice.
“In a short amount of time I went from being 99 percent committed to retirement to refocusing on ‘okay now Pyeongchang is two years away,’” Bailey said.
Now the Lake Placid native has become the first person to qualify for the 2018 U.S. Olympic team.
He’s already proved he hasn’t lost his competitive edge. Back in February, Bailey became the first American to win a gold medal at the Biathlon World Championships in the 20 kilometer individual race.
“It not only meant a lot to me, but it also meant a lot to everyone in U.S. Biathlon,” Bailey said.
The opportunity that made it possible for Bailey to continue his quest for an Olympic medal could also impact future U.S. biathlon competitors.
“At the 11th hour we were contacted by a non-profit out in Bozeman, Montana who said ‘we want to build a world-class biathlon facility in Bozeman, Montana,'” Bailey said.
And they wanted Bailey to play a key role in fund-raising and getting the center rolling for the next two years, while he was still an athlete, and then become director after the Olympics.
“This was something I hadn’t even contemplated and it represented somewhat of a dream job scenario,” Bailey said.
Lowell Bailey has brought attention and confidence back to U.S. biathlon.
He finished 8th in Sochi, the best finish ever by and American in the Biathlon. But the 35-year-old is back and better than ever, focused on taking home a medal.