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Original Issue

Lowell Bailey

Still pushing his limits

A few months after finishing outside the top 10 in all four of his races at the Vancouver Olympics, U.S. biathlete Lowell Bailey returned to training feeling sorry for himself. "I couldn't connect with why I was there," he says. "I thought I was wasting my time skiing in the woods and shooting at tiny black dots."

Still, he returned to the Olympics in Sochi, and in 2017 became the first U.S. biathlete to win a world championship when he took gold in the 20km individual event in Hochfilzen, Austria. And then he came home to utter anonymity. So why even bother with his strange pursuit? Bailey loves the travel, his teammates, the challenge of pushing his limits. Sure, in the offseason he's had to play gigs in a bluegrass band to earn some cash. (He's a guitarist.) Now competing in his fourth Olympics, the 36-year-old expresses no regrets. "Life is about doing what's fulfilling," says Bailey, whose top finish was 32nd in his first three races in South Korea. "It's easy to lose sight of that."