U.S. bobsledders pay emotional tribute to Holcomb

Bobsleigh - BMW IBSF Bob & Skeleton World Championships - 4-men final race - Koenigssee
FILE PHOTO - Bobsleigh - BMW IBSF Bob & Skeleton World Championships - 4-men final race - Koenigssee, Germany - 26/2/17 - Pilot Steven Holcomb of the USA reacts. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

February 9, 2018

(Reuters) – United States bobsledder Steven Holcomb’s untimely death last year shocked the fraternity and brought them closer, members of the team said on Friday.

Holcomb, 37, who came back from a suicide attempt over impending blindness to win Olympic gold in 2010, was found dead in his room at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York in May.

“We’ve become more than a team, we’ve become a brotherhood that I haven’t seen in the past 10 years in the sport. It’s just how we all came together,” Nick Cunningham, who will compete in two-man and four-man events, said on Friday.

“We’re all suffering together and the best way to honour Holcomb’s legacy is to carry it on, to always be that threat on the hill, always put in that work and honour him by what we’re doing behind the scenes,” he added.

Steven Langton, who won gold along with Holcomb in the 2012 World Championships in Lake Placid, said the team was sporting rubber bracelets to honor his legacy.

“It’s just a simple rubber band but it’s something that you never have to take off and it’s a way to remember our friend and brother. Most of us in some capacity got into this sport of bobsled because of Steve, had success because of Steve.”

Langton won a bronze medal with Holcomb in the two-man event in the Sochi Olympics before it was re-designated silvers after the Russian team was disqualified following a doping scandal.

“I’d like to say this year has been really hard for everyone,” Samuel McGuffie added. “I owe a lot of my success now to Holcomb. He’ll be greatly missed from now until eternity.”

Carlo Valdes, who joined the U.S. team in 2014, said he had talked extensively with Holcomb ahead of the Pyeongchang Games.

“He was so excited to get here and be part of this with us… But I know he wants us to do really well here. He’s watching from above.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)