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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Venezuelan President Raises Minimum Wage

    President Nicolas Maduro's announcement of a 30 percent increase in minimum wage comes as country is experiencing rampant inflation and economic stagnation

    Rescue Operation Brings Circus Lions from Peru to S. Africa

    Animal rights group rescued more than 30 lions from abuse at circuses in Peru and Colombia, flew them to South Africa Friday in what it called largest-ever airlift of lions

    Venezuela's Top Beer Maker Halts Output in Dispute with Government

    President threatened earlier in week to seize any plants halted by private companies and hand them over to workers

    US Reports Its First Zika-Related Death

    Puerto Rican man in his 70s died from internal bleeding related to rare immune reaction to Zika virus infection in February

    Rio Olympic Flame Visits UN Office in Geneva

    Flame, which was lit in Greece last week, was brought to UN for first time before it heads to Brazil for torch relay ahead of opening ceremony in Rio on Aug. 5

    Britain Foreign Secretary Visits Cuba for First Time in Nearly 60 Years

    Philip Hammond signed several cooperation agreements on energy, education and financial services