Jamaica’s next generation of bobsleigh heroes are not going to the Winter Olympics just to make up the numbers – they are in the hunt for a medal.
After a 24-year absence from the Winter Games, the island nation’s four-man bobsleigh team have qualified for Beijing 2022 – evoking memories of the original trailblazing team in 1988 which inspired the hit film Cool Runnings.
During the current team’s final training camp at Bath University, brakeman Ashley Watson told Sky News: “I wouldn’t want to go to an Olympic Games unless we’re getting a gold medal.
“So, we want medals!
“The best Jamaica has ever done in the bobsleigh is 14th so I’d like to get the best result Jamaica has ever had and inspire the next generation of Jamaican athletes.”
Lizzy Yarnold’s five Team GB medal hopes to watch in Beijing
Watson is joined in the quartet by Matthew Wekpe, Nimroy Turgott and pilot Shanwayne Stephens who lives in Peterborough and serves in the RAF.
Using a Mini Cooper to train during lockdown
During lockdown in 2020, with no access to proper training facilities, he and teammate Nimroy Turgott improvised by pushing Stephens’ fiancee’s Mini Cooper around a Peterborough industrial estate.
Stephens told Sky News: “All of this isn’t about the glory for us, it isn’t about the fame and fortune, it is about breaking barriers and doing things that people don’t normally do.”
The Jamaican team’s debut in 1988 was one of the standout moments in the history of the Winter Olympics and inspired the Disney film Cool Runnings.
Bobsleigh a “pioneering” winter sport in Jamaica
Leon Robinson, who starred as Derice Bannock in the 1993 movie, which was loosely based on the original team, told Sky News: “It is like 1988 all over again!”
“Ever since Cool Runnings came out, the movie, people have been looking to root for the Jamaican bobsleigh team for years and now we have a chance to do it.”
“I think everyone loves a fish out of water story.”
“It is a struggle for the Jamaican team to be able to have the equipment to compete at that level, so when they get there, they are going to be proud men and they are going to do their thing.”
One of the original Jamaican trailblazers in 1988, Dudley ‘Tal’ Stokes, told Sky News that bobsleigh is the “pioneering” winter sport.
“There is a tremendous sense of pride that we started, continued….we keep coming back.
“I worked very hard to ensure that this generation was prepared and enabled to perform.”
Despite a recent COVID scare during training in Austria the 2022 team are all set to fly to Beijing later this week before the Winter Olympics begin on 4 February.
Read more: Former DJ Benjamin Alexander to become first skier to represent Jamaica at Winter Olympics
Read more: China warns UK, US and Australia will pay the price for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Games