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Three Questions For: Steven Holcomb

April 20, 2010
Steven Holcomb

Photo: Parke Brewer, Art: Marc Librescu

Steven Holcomb is the American bobsledder at the helm of Team Night Train. In 2007, he was diagnosed with keratoconus, a degenerative eye disease that threatened his eyesight. Holcomb’s vision eventually deteriorated to the point where he was legally blind, which forced him to retire from bobsledding. In 2009, his vision was restored by an experimental procedure. At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, he won the gold medal in the four-man bobsled event for the United States, the country’s first gold medal in the sport since 1948.

1. How has your life changed since becoming the first American to win a gold medal in bobsledding in 62 years?

It’s said around the Olympic Village that if you win a gold medal you’ll get a few endorsements, a spot on a late night show, and your picture on the Wheaties Box.

Well, I have a couple of endorsements (nothing long term yet); we were on Letterman; and they gave the Wheaties Box to somebody else. Instead I’ve done a number of appearances, including a small bit with Microsoft, which was really cool. It’s been 6 ½ weeks and I am still on the road doing meet and greets, and speeches. I’ve only had three days off the entire time. It’s been crazy, but so much fun. I’ve met so many great people—a once in a lifetime experience.

2. Learning that you had a degenerative eye disease that caused blindness must have been daunting. How were you able to stay positive while you were dealing with the effects and treatment of the disease?

I knew that my eyes were going to degrade to a point that I would have to leave athletics. Knowing that helped me realize that my days were numbered and that I had to live it up the best I could. I did the best I could and actually won multiple World Cup races, and even two World Cup Titles in 2007 (and runner up in the four-man in 2007).

Knowing that you are going blind is a miserable situation. Its inevitable; it’s kind of like knowing the day you’re going to die. I had given up a number of times, but with the support of my family and my closest friends, I kept at it with my fingers crossed. Eventually I found the right guy, Dr. Brian Boxer-Wachler, and he saved my career.

3. During your appearance on the Today show, you offered to adopt a shelter dog they were featuring on the show. How’s that working out?

Things are fantastic. Bailey, my dog, is overwhelmed. She spent the first two years of her life in New York City, where life is chaotic and busy. Now she comes here to Colorado and she doesn’t know what to do. She saw her first rabbit the other day and she knew that she wanted to chase it, but she kept looking at me as if I had the answer. It was so funny. She really is a good dog and she’s very smart. I’m so proud. Not to mention, I am a sucker for her and I spoil her too much. It’s bad, I just can’t say no. Oh well. She’s happy and spoiled—so am I.

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