Olympic bobsled gold medalist Steven Holcomb was found dead at the age of 37 in his room at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York, on Saturday, May 6, the U.S. Olympic Committee confirmed.
“The entire Olympic family is shocked and saddened by the incredibly tragic loss today of Steven Holcomb,” Scott Blackmun, United States Olympic Committee CEO, said in a statement. “Steve was a tremendous athlete and even better person, and his perseverance and achievements were an inspiration to us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve’s family and the entire bobsledding community.”
Holcomb, a native of Park City, Utah, was a three-time Olympian, winning gold in 2010 at the Vancouver Games, and two bronze medals in Sochi in 2014. He was expected to be a member of the U.S. Olympic team at the Pyeongchang games next year.
Holcomb battled depression in the past, writing in his 2012 autobiography, But Now I See: My Journey From Blindness to Olympic Gold, about a failed suicide attempt in a hotel room in 2007.
“I attempted suicide, and when I woke up, it was a moment in my life that I realized that I had a bigger purpose,” he told Today.com in 2014.
The athlete believed his depression was related to his struggle with keratonconus, a degenerative condition that affected his eyesight over the course of five or six years to the point where he believed his bobsled career was over.
He hid the severity of his condition from his teammates, learned to navigate the bobsled by the feel of the tracks and memorized an eye chart so he could pass the eye test in yearly physicals required for U.S. athletes. His vision was saved by a non-invasive procedure in 2008.
“It would be easy to focus on the loss in terms of his Olympic medals and enormous athletic contributions to the organization, but USA Bobsled & Skeleton is a family and right now we are trying to come to grips with the loss of our teammate, our brother and our friend,” USA Bobsled & Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele said in a statement on Saturday.
Holcomb’s cause of death is unclear. The Associated Press reports that officials said there were no immediate indications of foul play and an autopsy is tentatively scheduled for Sunday.
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