News / Americas

After 12 Years, Jamaican Bobsledders Return to Winter Olympics

After 12 Years, Jamaican Bobsledders Return to Winter Olympicsi
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

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Drug Lord Mask Topping Halloween Sales

Mexican authorities continue search for escaped Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzmán, but manhunt for Sinaloa cartel leader could be tough - many plan to dress like fugitive

Panama Condo Owners to Trump: You're Fired!

Directors of luxury condominium development say mismanagement, overspending and undisclosed bonuses executives paid themselves prompted decision

Rescued Chilean Miners Were 'Battle-Scarred,' Author Says

Despite becoming celebrities after their improbable rescue in 2010, the men were deeply wounded, said writer Hector Tobar

Celebration of Peru's Economic Boom Comes Late

World Bank, IMF policymakers this week call country a prize pupil of financial stability, however, plunging prices for minerals have cut annual growth dramatically

Guatemala Landslide Death Toll Tops 220; Another 350 Missing

Loosened by heavy rains, hillside collapsed onto Santa Catarina Pinula on southeastern flank of Guatemala City October 1, burying scores of homes

Report: More Than 58,000 Violent Deaths Last Year in Brazil

Annual report on public security says number of violent deaths up nearly 5 percent last year from 2013, when country suffered a then high of 55,000 such deaths