Illuminating: Utah Olympic gold medalist Steve Holcomb shares battle with depression to offer insight, inspire hope
But the real indication of what's possible this winter lies in what he did last weekend. In the first World Cup of the Olympic season, he swept both races. On Friday night, he and Steve Langton won gold in the two-man competition. Then on Saturday, Holcomb, Fogt, Langton and Curt Tomasevicz won the four-man gold medal.
The U.S. bobsled and skeleton teams return to Park City's Olympic Park this weekend for the second World Cup competition.
Holcomb said he is so far from the man he was on that bleak night in 2007 that it's sometimes difficult for even him to comprehend.
He said most of the reaction to his story has been positive.
“People have opened up a little bit, and that’s kind of one of the reasons I wrote it was not only to deal with the keratoconus, but depression,” he said. “When you speak out about it, it gives (other) people a bit of confidence to open up themselves.”
He admits that asking for help may have been even harder because he’s an elite athlete.
“You don’t want people to think you’re weak,” he said. “I didn’t want my teammates to know — definitely not. They’re not going to hop in a sled with a guy who’s depressed.” And he had convinced himself that admitting to the reality of his situation — physically and emotionally — would jeopardize a career he’d been working for since he was in high school.
No one would see promise in a nearly blind, perpetually sad athlete.
“How can you be motivated to go win a race if you’re not even motivated to wake up in the morning?” he said.
So he retreated from life, from his friends and teammates, and even from his family.
“I was very good at hiding it,” he said. “It was not their fault (that they didn’t know he was suicidal). I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t open up about it.”
Which is exactly the reason that he chose to write about it when he published his life story last year.
“I believe there is a bigger purpose for me,” he said. “Not necessarily winning gold medals. But as big as I’d like to think the gold medals are, I think the purpose is letting people know that there is help out there. There is hope.”
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