News / Americas

After 12 Years, Jamaican Bobsledders Return to Winter Olympics

After 12 Years, Jamaican Bobsledders Return to Winter Olympicsi
X
February 09, 2014 12:32 PM
No tropical nation has ever won a medal in the Winter Olympics, but Jamaica’s bobsled team has become a legend by taking on the snow-and-ice countries. VOA's James Brooke reports from the Sochi Winter Olympics.
After 12 Years, Jamaican Bobsledders Return to Winter Olympics
James Brooke
A tropical nation has never won a medal in the Winter Olympics. But Jamaica’s bobsled team has become a legend for challenging snow and ice countries at their own sport.

A generation ago, the Jamaican bobsled team won fans worldwide through the Hollywood hit movie Cool Runnings.

But after competing in five Winter Olympics, the Jamaicans twice failed to qualify. For a decade, the team dropped out of sight.

Then, last month, 17 days before the start of the 2014 Olympics in Russia, the Jamaicans unexpectedly received the green light.

From their training site in Evanston, Wyoming, a rural corner of a rural American state, team members Wayne Blackwood, Winston Watts, and Marvin Dixon raised the cry: “Jamaica bobsled team: Sochi 2014, here we come!"

Now, they call themselves: Cool Runnings, The Second Generation.
Their slogan? The Hottest Thing on Ice.

At 46, team captain Winston Watts, pilot of the two-man bobsled, is a veteran of three Olympics.
 
"Age is just a number. I guarantee I tell you that. It doesn't matter how old I am, it's how you take care of your body that's for one," he said. "It's what you put into your body and day-to-day activities that you do is, you know I'm 46 year[s] old, straight, but if you look at me I look like I'm 26. So age is just a number."

To raise money, the team sent out an appeal through the Internet–something that did not exist at the time of the team’s Olympic debut in Calgary in 1988.
This time, the Jamaicans raised $180,000.

Within two weeks, the Jamaican team was on the far side of the globe from the American West–in mountains of Southern Russia.

But not all their gear came through. A snowstorm in New York, rerouted their plane to Philadelphia. Somehow, the bags with their helmets and blades got separated from the team.

Watts spent time the first days in Russian posing with tourists, talking to journalists, and buying a new mobile phone to call folks back home, many of whom remain skeptical.

“Oh man, people are always asking me if I am crazy,” Watts told VOA in Krasnaya Polana. “Why me? But I always look at myself as if I were the chosen one.”
The JAM-1 sled from Jamaica, takes a turn during a training run for the men's two-man bobsled at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.The JAM-1 sled from Jamaica, takes a turn during a training run for the men's two-man bobsled at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Watts said the 1993 Cool Runnings movie continues to inspire the Jamaican team today. 

“Oh man, I love that movie. That movie is so great for Jamaica bobsled team, and for the second generation, the third generation so on. Up until today I really do watch that movie.”

And the future?

“I still plan to keep going, so we get the new generation," Watts said. "Then I fade it out and hopefully become one of the coaches.”

Eventually, the team's gear made it to southern Russia. First, Watts had to empty his helmet of protein powder. Somewhere along the line, a customs agent opened cans of powder, thinking the Jamaican team might carry something illicit.

Reunited with their gear, the Jamaicans are now back in the Olympics. They are concentrating on their Feb. 16 race date with an iced bobsled track that features 19 curves as it twists down the mountain.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: gil from: usa-va
February 11, 2014 11:37 PM
I think its awesome..hope they win gold!


by: Ngwasi M. Chibikom from: Bamenda, Cameroon
February 09, 2014 2:57 PM
Go Jamaican Bobsledders, go ... :)

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Health Minister Named as Haiti's New Interim Prime Minister

Announcement is part of effort to resolve a mounting political crisis over long-delayed elections
More

Kerry: US-Cuba Thaw Will Advance Interests for Both

Secretary of state says 11 million people of Cuba have waited far too long - more than half a century - to 'fulfill their democratic aspirations' and build closer ties with rest of world
More

Cuba's Famed Cigars Get a Foot in Door of US Market

Under new rules to be implemented soon, US will make it easier for some Americans to travel to Cuba and they will be able to return with $100 worth of alcohol, tobacco
More

Tourism, Farm Groups See Bigger Business With Cuba

'We are the closest major food producer that Cuba has,' an American Farm Bureau Federation spokesman notes
More

Castro Lauds US Outreach, Says Cuba to Remain Communist

In speech to lawmakers, Cuba's president says economic reforms will be accelerated, yet changes will be gradual
More

Raul Castro Steps Out of Brother's Shadow With US Deal

Cuban president scores diplomatic triumph, surge in support with this week's deal that ends decades of hostility with United States
More