Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yes, Jamaica Still Has A Bobsled Team

The Jamaican bobsled team made their competitive debut at the Calgary Games in 1988 and were immortalized in the movie Cool Runnings.

But what have they been up to since their auspicious turn on the Olympic competition world stage 22 years ago?

They made respectable showings in Calgary, the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville and are still competing on the World Cup circuit. Despite having little funding and substandard equipment, the Jamaicans still managed to get into the world Top 50 4 man sled rankings and give their longshot hopes of competing in Vancouver life.

They dearly wanted to return to the country where their program debuted in Olympic competition, but unfortunately when the competition gets underway that won't happen.

"We've been in battles for many, many years," Chris Stokes, a founding member of the Jamaican bobsled team more than 20 years ago, told The AP in a phone interview. "This is one more. But it's disappointing, no question about that. The guys worked really hard and did well. Not qualifying, it's by no means a failure. It's a step going forward.

They failed to qualify for the Vancouver Games, but they are still planning to be at the Whistler Sliding Centre if for no other reason than to give the team a taste of what an Olympics is like.

"It's very important for them to go and see," Stokes said. "They'll remember what the games are like and watch the start line of a four-man Olympic race and feel that adrenaline. I hope it acts as a motivation for them."

Jamaica is already setting their sights on competing in the 2014 Games in Sochi.

They are hopeful of adding more sleds and drivers and intend to offer retired US bobsled pilot and 2002 silver medalist Todd Hays a coaching position.

The three time Olympian was recently forced to retire after suffering a concussion following a December crash during a 4 man training run at a World Cup event in Winterberg, Germany.

Hays has lent the Jamaican federation equipment and his expertise in the sport.

"There are many things we can, and we will, do to improve our chances," Stokes said.

And hopefully we'll see the Jamaicans back at the 2014 Games as well.

1 comment:

genevieve said...

I remember 1988 and how the Jamaican bobsled were the main attraction at those Olympics. I ray that they wll continue to improve, get good equipement and coaches and train future generations of bobsledders.