PYEONGCHANG, South Korea - In the world of bobsled, USA’s Steven Holcomb was a legend.
In 2010, he led the national team to its first Olympic gold since 1948. Five years later, when the legend needed a protege, he found Houstonian Sam McGuffie.
As a Cy-Fair High School running back, McGuffie rushed for 5,847 yards in 699 carries, with 83 touchdowns. But he was perhaps best known for hurdling defenders, as seen in viral videos.
He played at Michigan and Rice universities, followed by brief stints with the Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League, before taking his biggest leap of faith yet.
“My track coach at Rice had a buddy that became a bobsledder. And he said, ‘You know what? I think you can do this,’” McGuffie said. “I was at a point where I had some time to think about what I was going to do (next), and I tried it out.”
Less than two years later, after Holcomb found McGuffie at a bobsled combine, the pair won gold at the 2016-2017 Bobsled World Cup in Lake Placid.
“It’s cool that he took a chance on me as a rookie,” McGuffie said.
In May 2017, as Holcomb, McGuffie and the rest of the national team prepared to qualify for the Pyeongchang Winter Games, Holcomb died. Alcohol and prescription sleeping pills were found in his system, according to a toxicology report.
“It’s been hard, just because he’s been the face of this sport for probably the last 20 years,” McGuffie said. “It’s important for us to carry on his legacy and medal at the Olympics.”
At the 2017-2018 Bobsled World Cup in Lake Placid, McGuffie and his new teammate, Cody Bascue, won the gold again. McGuffie was then chosen for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games as a brakeman for Bascue in the two- and four-man race.
“The Olympics is once every four years, and that’s the only thing that anyone will remember,” McGuffie said. “I think it would mean so much to -- just for that one moment -- to actually be a champion.”
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