Jamaican National Bobsled teams returns to the Olympics

BY JONATHAN BLADER ’17, Contributing Writer

Before they even hit the course, the ride had already been a tumultuous one for the Jamaican national bobsled team. Returning to the Winter Olympics for the first time since 2002, the two-man team made up of driver Winston Watts and brakeman Wayne Blackwood couldn’t be more excited. However, their story seems almost too surreal to be true.

The Jamaicans qualified by racing on low-tier North American circuits, racking up enough points to earn them a trip to Sochi. Even though they qualified, the price for transportation and better equipment required funds that the team simply couldn’t afford. The Jamaicans still had an uphill battle ahead of them if they were even going to get to the Olympics.

Watts realized quickly that his dreams of bringing a four-man team to the Olympics was out of the question because of their lack of funding. Asking friends, family, and strangers alike, the Jamaican bobsledders raised $178,000 just in time to send the athletes to the Sochi Games. Donations were organized through sympathizing fans on websites like Reddit and Twitter who were inspired by the team’s commitment to compete.

However, the trouble didn’t end there. Unfortunately, the Jamaicans’ baggage didn’t arrive with them in Sochi. They got into Moscow last Wednesday and were shocked to find that their equipment was thousands of miles away. After all of their hard work, it seemed as though they were going to have to forego competition because of something completely out of their hands. Luckily, the sleds made it to Sochi the next morning, alleviating Watts and Blackwood of any further stress. They took their first practice runs the day before the opening ceremonies.

Although the Jamaican team has virtually no chance of getting on the podium, they are confident that they will perform well. Even without winning, these athletes are doing more for the sport of bobsledding than any other team out there. The 1993 Disney movie Cool Runnings, based on the true story of the Jamaican bobsled team’s journey to the 1988 Winter Olympics, inspired countries which traditionally did not compete in the Winter Games to start training athletes for winter events. The Jamaican bobsled team will always be a beloved member of the Winter Olympic’s history.

First-year Jonathan Blader is a contributing writer. His email is jblader@fandm.edu.

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