For the first time in Olympic history, Jamaica has qualified for three bobsled events and may also qualify for a fourth at the Winter games in China. It has been 24 years since the country made its historic debut in the four-man event, which at the time drew worldwide attention and the creation of the popular movie, Cool Runnings.
In addition to the four-man team, the country also qualified for two others: the two-man and women’s monobob. The results were announced on Monday, after the qualifying period ended last Sunday.
Based on their international results this season, Jamaica secured the final spot in the 28-team field for the Beijing Olympics, slated for next month. The team of Shanwayne Stephens (pilot), Rolando Reid, Ashley Watson, and Matthew Wekpe (push athletes) finished fifth on the lower-level North American Cup. They will compete against powerhouses Germany, Canada, Austria, USA and Switzerland.
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Jamaica first made its bobsled debut at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, with Devon Harris, Dudley Stokes, Michael White, Freddy Powell, and last-minute replacement Chris Stokes. Although the team failed to finish, their story inspired the 1993 Disney film, “Cool Runnings”, considered one of the most successful Jamaican films of all time.
Jamaica has competed in bobsledding at eight straight Winter Games since its debut. The country’s highest ever finish was 14th at the 1994 Games. Jamaica’s last time having a four-man bobsled team at the Winter Games was 1998.
In congratulating the teams on qualifying, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, says the Jamaican teams “demonstrate that nothing is impossible.”
“‘We don’t have no snow’ yet here we are competing against the world’s best on ice,” said Minister Grange at a recent news conference.
“This generation — and others to come — will look up to you and be inspired by you because of your unlikely presence at the Winter Games representing a tropical country and doing well. You are stories of dedication and commitment filled with a lot of blood, sweat,four-person, and tears. Your hard work has already paid off.”
Minister Grange also used the opportunity to highlight Jamaica’s success in skiing.
“For the first time at the Winter Olympics, Jamaica will have a competitor in Alpine Skiing and I want to congratulate Benjamin Alexander on this wonderful achievement for our country.”
Alexander is the second skier to represent Jamaica at the Winter Games, following Errol Kerr, who finished ninth in the Ski Cross at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
“As you go to Beijing, please know that the entire country is cheering you on; and you can continue to count on the support of the Ministry and the Government of Jamaica,” said Minister Grange.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games will take place from February 4 to February 20, 2022.