Steve Langton revels in winning his first Olympic bobsled medal
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Steve Langton's workout regimen is the stuff of legend around the U.S. bobsled team, so much so that a pair of fellow athletes made a video a couple years ago chronicling his exploits.
They called it "Push Track Hero."
"Olympic Hero" might be the sequel.
After years of training, Langton is now an Olympic medalist, teaming with driver Steven Holcomb to win the bronze medal in two-man bobsledding, the first medal for the United States in that event since 1952. He was getting the medal on Tuesday, one day after USA-1 finished the competition behind sleds from Russia and Switzerland.
"It's very overwhelming," said Langton, a native of Melrose, Mass. "I'm physically drained and I'm also emotionally drained. It's going to set in at some point."
Embedded video_content_type: Holcomb and Langton overwhelmed with emotion
For as much as the U.S. needed that 62-year Olympic medal drought in two-man bobsled to end, the American contingent was clearly overjoyed for Langton as well.
He's a former world push champion, is someone just about everyone in the U.S. sliding world — luge and skeleton athletes included — seems to gravitate to, is as well-respected as anyone in the program and goes about his work in a relatively unassuming manner. In a sport where the drivers tend to get most of the attention, Langton tends to just push the sled, jump aboard, put his head down and do his job quietly.
"He's worked harder than anybody," Holcomb said. "To be able to get him on the podium, that was a big goal of mine personally."
The congratulatory messages poured in on social media. Kristi Yamaguchi sent a note lauding Holcomb and Langton. U.S. bobsledder Chuck Berkeley — he and driver Cory Butner were the two who made the "Push Track Hero" video — called Langton the best two-man brakeman in American bobsled history. John Daly, who was devastated when his hopes for a medal in men's skeleton were dashed after popping a groove to start his final run, lauded his Lake Placid roommate, saying the medal was well deserved.
Even Dr. Joseph E. Aoun — the President of Northeastern University, Langton's school — tweeted in appreciation of the medal.
Langton has long been someone who has reluctantly accepted moments in the spotlight. After this, there's no avoiding attention.
Embedded video_content_type: Holcomb, Langton take home bronze in two-man bobsled
"I'm in this sport to win medals for my country and my family and all the people who have supported me along the way," Langton said. "Definitely with a medal, it answers that question, 'Was it worth it?' The answer's obviously yes."
Holcomb and Langton didn't get that medal by much of a margin, finishing just 0.03 seconds ahead of a Russian sled that made a huge late push to challenge for the bronze spot.
But they held on, and now have a chance to go home with two medals from Sochi. The Americans should contend in four-man this weekend, with Langton again being a big part of Holcomb's USA-1 team there.
"We had a great season in two-man. We had a great season in four-man," Langton said. "I hope there are high expectations. That's when I tend to do my best work."
And if there's one thing Langton likes to do, it's work.
Fitness is an obsession for him, and what he can do in the weight room is ridiculous, even for elite athletes. He's done a 62-inch standing box jump — meaning, basically, he could jump over Yamaguchi if so inclined. He squats more than 500 pounds. He's been timed around 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He overcame a serious hip problem that required surgery in the fall of 2008, then another serious leg injury in 2009.
All those weights, all those reps, they were all to lift one pound — the weight of an Olympic bronze medal.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Model Olympian: Steve Langton, bobsled