Three-time Olympic medalist Steven Holcolmb was found dead in his room at Team USA’s training center in Lake Placid, New York, on Saturday, the United States Olympic Committee confirmed. The bobsled pilot, who was expected to race again in the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, was 37.
The cause of Holcomb’s death remains unclear, although according to the Associated Press, foul play is not suspected.
Holcomb overcame an illness that almost left him blind to win Olympic gold with his “Night Train” team, the nickname given to the bobsled occupied by Holcomb and crewmen Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curtis Tomasevicz in the four-man competition at the 2010 Vancouver Games. The win triumphantly broke a 62-year medal drought in the sport for the United States.
Four years later, Holcomb would do the same, breaking a 62-year medal drought in the men’s two-man competition at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He took home a bronze in that event, as well as another bronze in the four-man race.
“If anyone else has a 62-year medal drought you need to break, let me know,” Holcomb joked (via the AP) in Sochi. “I’ll help you.”
While Holcomb became known for his a fun-loving personality, the athlete revealed in his 2007 autobiography “But Now I See: My Journey from Blindness to Olympic Gold” that his life wasn’t always so sweet. He said because of his bout with keratoconus, which nearly cost him his eyesight, he experienced bouts of depression that once got so bad he attempted suicide.
Thanks to surgery, however, Holcomb recovered and later said he learned to view the lows in his life as lessons.
“After going through all that and still being here, I realized what my purpose was,” he told the AP in 2014.
In the run-up to the 2018 Olympics, Holcomb appeared in good spirits. Late last month the Team USA’s Twitter account posted a GIF of the athlete goofing off at a photo shoot.
The mood was obviously different Saturday, as Holcomb’s colleagues, family, friends and fans mourned the athlete’s unexpected death.
“The entire Olympic family is shocked and saddened by the incredibly tragic loss today of Steven Holcomb,” USOC chief Scott Blackmun 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.”
An official with USA Bobsled and Skeleton, which governs the sport, echoed those sentiments in their own statement.
“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 and 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,” the organization’s CEO, Darrin Steele, said.
Other Olympians and friends chimed in on social media.