(BPT) - Growing up just steps away from the slopes in Park City, Utah, Steven Holcomb’s Olympic dreams started early. Today, the 32-year-old Holcomb pilots the four-man bobsled crew nicknamed the “Night Train” and is considered one of the most successful bobsled drivers in U.S. history.
Holcomb is headed to compete for Team USA at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, where he hopes to defend the gold medal he earned at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
Holcomb took a moment to reflect on his career and future aspirations following his team’s seventh World Cup win in Lake Placid, N.Y., last December.
Was there a certain point in time when you realized you had the potential to become an Olympian?
SH: I wanted to be an Olympian for as long as I can remember. I was an avid alpine skier for 12 years, but I just didn’t feel that I had the potential to be the best in the sport. In 1998, several months after I graduated from high school, I decided to switch paths and try out for the U.S. bobsled team. I made the team and within a year competed in my first World Cup event. There was no turning back after that - I was hooked.
You’ve come a long way to get to where you are today, including overcoming a degenerative eye disease. You then authored a book about your journey. What inspired you to share your story?
SH: I was diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease keratoconus in 2002. It’s a progressive disease leaving one-in-four totally blind. I figured this was the end of my road in competitive sports, so I considered retiring. When I finally told my coaches, I was lucky enough to be introduced to a revolutionary treatment, which restored my vision. I went on to lead the U.S. bobsled team to the World Championship title and we took home the gold medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. We were the first U.S. bobsled team to win a gold medal since 1948. The treatment was later named the Holcomb C3-R, which was a great honor. I realized anything is possible when you get a second chance and that was too powerful not to share.
What do you love about bobsledding?
SH: Bobsledding is a lot of work but a lot of fun, too. The pressure, high speed, and difficult tracks - it’s exhilarating. The only thing people see is the sled actually in the track, but there is so much more that goes into prepping the crew and the sled. It’s all worth it though.
You have earned multiple professional IT certifications from both Microsoft and CompTIA and you’re now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from DeVry University. What do you intend to do after the Olympics?
SH: I know I always have to be prepared for the future. Right now, that means continuing my education, so I can be successful after my bobsled career ends. The staff at DeVry University has been immensely accommodating and kind in helping me manage my student life in the midst of my athletic career. I have worked as a computer technician for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in the past, so I’d like to continue down that career path one day.
What advice do you have for young athletes who have their eyes set on competing in the Olympic Games one day?
SH: After 16 years of competing, all I can say is you must have perseverance. Today’s young athletes need to fight for what they want because no one is going to give them a spot on the team and no one is going to hand them a medal. Every great athlete has a story that precedes them and hard work is without a doubt the central theme. As the saying goes, “tough times never last, but tough people do.”
DeVry University is an official education provider of the United States Olympic Committee. To learn more about Holcomb or other Team USA student athletes who are training to compete in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, visit newsroom.devry.edu.