News / Americas

After 12 Years, Jamaican Bobsledders Return to Winter Olympics

After 12 Years, Jamaican Bobsledders Return to Winter Olympicsi
X
February 09, 2014
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

TEXT SIZE - +
— 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.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Earthquake Rattles Mexico

US Geological Survey says quake measuring 7.5 on Richter scale, was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of Acapulco beach resort
More

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support
More

Colombian Novelist Garcia Marquez Dies at 87

Author of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982
More

Salsa Legend Cheo Feliciano Dies in Car Crash

Police say singer was alone in his jaguar when he hit a post before sunrise Thursday
More

NY Times: US Deportation of Illegal Immigrants Declines

Obama has come under increasing pressure from immigration advocates who have accused him of moving too slowly on immigration reform
More

Argentina's Fight with Bondholders Reaches US Supreme Court

The case concerns whether investors can force banks with which Argentina does business to disclose information about the country's non-US assets
More