Steve Holcomb end his country’s 62-year wait for a gold medal in bobsleigh
The history of the Olympic Games is littered with tales of athletes who have overcome adversity and injury on their way to success, but few have faced the same obstacles as American bobsleigh pilot Steve Holcomb, who staved off the threat of blindness to end his country’s 62-year wait for a gold medal in the event.
Holcomb started out as a skier before getting his first taste of bobsleigh at the 2002 Winter Games as a forerunner, one of the course testers who check out the run before competition starts to make sure conditions are suitable. He loved the experience so much that he decided to make a permanent switch to the sport.
He was highly successful but then found himself battling a degenerative eye condition. Despite wearing glasses and contact lenses, his sight became so bad at one point that he was steering by feel rather than vision.
Eventually he underwent pioneering treatment that involved vitamins activated by light – and it worked. His vision restored, Holcomb led his four-man bob to the world championship title and he arrived in Vancouver with bullish confidence.
Nicknamed the “Night Train”, Holcomb’s jet black sled was unmistakable. His crew started like a rocket, breaking the Vancouver track record in their first run to take the lead, and then extending their advantage in their second with another track record.
After that, it was simply a case of consolidating and avoiding any mistakes. Two more solid runs ensured victory by a margin of 0.38 seconds. It was the USA’s first gold medal in the four-man event at the Winter Games since St Moritz in 1948.