Steven Holcomb: Medal-Winning U.S. Bobsledder Opens Up About Suicide Attempt
02/22/2014 AT 08:45 PM EST
"I woke the next morning, realizing what I had done, and decided I needed help to fight it," Holcomb, 33, of Park City, Utah, tells PEOPLE.
A few months later he underwent a then-experimental procedure that accomplished what 12 specialists couldn't. Special eye drops and a UV light, combined with surgically implanted contact lenses, restored the sight he'd been losing to what was ultimately diagnosed as cornea-thinning keratoconus.
"I was literally seeing the world in a whole new way," he says, though notes that now overwhelmed with sight he had to relearn driving, which he had increasingly done by feel, to win gold on his four-man sled at Vancouver.
Going into Sochi with high hopes, Holcomb sought this time to medal in two events: the two-man and four-man races.
On Monday night, he and Steve Langton made history by winning the bronze medal in two-man bobsledding, the first Olympic medal by an American sled in the event since 1952.
By now, 62 must be Holcomb's favorite number. His four-man gold medal at the Vancouver Games also snapped a 62-year U.S. drought in that race.
He's next hoping to for a golden repeat when he competes later this week in the four-man event.
"I realized that God had a bigger purpose for me," he says. "It wasn't my time. I had more to do in this world."