Jamaican bobsled team Olympics-bound to compete for first time in 12 years
Jamaica’s bobsleigh team have been given the nod to compete in the Sochi Olympics, their national Olympic Association (JOA) confirmed.
It will be the third Winter Games for a team from the sun-drenched Caribbean island who first qualified in 1988 for Calgary, an achievement that later inspired the movie “Cool Runnings.”
They last competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Driver Winston Watts and brakeman Marvin Dixon will compete in the two-man bob in the 32-team competition on February 19 and 20.
“The good news was announced today by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (FIBT) and once again, the pride of the country is with our athletes who continue to blaze the trail,” the JOA said.
“It means the world to me,” Watts, 46, told BBC Sport.
“I could not fall asleep last night just waiting to hear the news. I had a strong feeling we would get in but you never know.”
Watts said he spent £100,000 (121,000 euro/$164,000) of his own money in an attempt to ensure qualification.
He added: “It means the world to Jamaica. We have dominated in summer sports like athletics and now we’ve qualified for the Winter Olympics.”
Their appeal for funds had been echoed on the Team Jamaica Twitter site, @JamaicaOlympics.
Jamaican Chef de Mission Nelson Christian Stokes is scheduled to arrive in Sochi on February 3 and the team — Watts, Dixon, Wayne Blackwood (reserve crew) and Thomas Samuel (coach) — will arrive on February 4.
Stokes said Monday that money shouldn’t be a big problem for the Olympic sledders as they are funded from several sources including the Jamaican Olympic Association and the Sochi organizing committee.
“The Jamaica bobsled team federation found in the Jamaica Olympic Association a willing and ready partner for many years. We were able to do our races this year because of the assistance we got from them,” he said.
“Once the team qualifies the Jamaican Olympic Association covers the cost of getting the team to the games and the local organizing committee takes up the cost of the team from there.
Said the JOA, “As is customary, all local expenses including accommodation and transportation are met by the organising committee for the Games.”