Tom: Imagine hurdling 75 miles an hour on ice in a tube. Sounds pretty intense, right? Well, that is essentially what a bobsledder does. And this week, Steve Holcomb led Team USA to a bronze medal in the two-man bobsled. That is the first medal they have won since 1952 in that sport. And he doesn’t plan on stopping there. He wants to win more medals this weekend. And as Shelby Holliday reports, he is not letting anything get in his way.
Shelby: Steve Holcomb is out to defend America’s gold medal in the four-man bobsled race, one of the last and most highly anticipated events in this year’s Olympics.
How do you stay focused when everyone else is done with their event?
Steve Holcomb: That’s what we’re there for. We’re not there to party, we’re there for business.
Shelby: In the past few years, Steve has driven the U.S. to bobsled dominance with countless World Cup wins and Olympic podium performances. But winning medals hasn’t been his toughest challenge.
Steve: In 2001, I was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease called keratoconus. Basically, my eye just slowly degenerated overtime and in 2007 my vision finally hit 21,000.
Shelby: Slowly losing his sight, Steve feared his career was going dark. So he decided to hide his eye disease from the world.
Steve: I kept it a secret and that was my biggest problem.
Shelby: And you were depressed because of it, right?
Steve: I was. And because I couldn’t do everyday things, I had to withdraw socially. I couldn’t interact with people. Like people would go out and watch the football games on the weekend and I couldn’t go because I couldn’t see the TV.
Shelby: He learned to drive by feel instead of eyesight. But just when he was climbing to the top, things spiraled out of control.
Steve: It finally just took its toll and I ended up attempting suicide, and it was very extremely fortunate that it didn’t work out. And I woke up the next day and I realized I need to take advantage of every single opportunity that I get. I’m lucky to have a second chance, so I can’t waste any of it.
Shelby: After that precious second chance, Steve took a gamble on an experimental eye surgery, and it worked. In a matter of minutes, his bobsled career was back on track.
Steve: Within two years, we won the first world championship title in fifty years. Within three years, we won the first gold medal.
Shelby: Now Steve is one of the top pilots in the world and he recently wrote a book about his long road to Olympic glory, something he hopes to continue with repeat gold in Sochi.
Steve: You know, tough times never last, tough people do. It’s true. It’s not always tough. It gets better.
Shelby: And now you are back to get the gold!
Steve: There you go! There you go!
Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.
Tom: Thanks, Shelby.
Holcomb and his teammates will be competing in the four-man bobsled this weekend.