News

Jamaican Bobsleigh Team Eyes Return to Olympic Games

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - January 10, 2014

Above: the Jamaican bobsleigh team in action

By Alexander Britell

It’s not unusual to see Jamaican athletes at the Olympics these days. Whether it’s Usain Bolt or Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Jamaican excellence in international athletics has become commonplace.

Long before Jamaica was sweeping gold medals left and right, though, an upstart team shocked the world in the 1988 Olympics, qualifying not for the 100M sprint, but for bobsleigh.

The film based on their exploits, “Cool Runnings,” turned the Jamaican bobsleigh team into an international icon.

In the last two decades, things haven’t been quite the same.

The team qualified for the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics and then the 2002 Games in Utah, but it then faded, failing to qualify for the next two Games.

This year, though, things could be different.

Winston Watt, who represented Jamaica in the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, is trying to make Jamaican bobsleigh relevant again. And right now, the team still has a shot at qualifying for Sochi next month.

“We’re in a good position for the Olympics,” Watt told Caribbean Journal from Lake Placid, N.Y., where he and the new Jamaican bobsleigh team just completed two days of qualifying, finishing fifth overall.

If the qualifications were announced today, Jamaica would be in, Watt said.

The official qualifying cutoff is Jan. 19, he said, and the question now is whether the group will take part in one more series of races, this time in Switzerland, to cement its standing.

The problem, however, is funding.

The Jamaican team may have captured hearts around the world two decades ago, but today the team doesn’t have a “any sponsor whatsoever,” Watt says, though they’ve been able to find some help from longtime friends of the squad.

Indeed, Watt says he is funding practically all of the expenses out of his own pocket, hoping to keep the dream of Jamaican bobsleigh alive.

“I think they’re in good position,” Chris Stokes, General Secretary of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation, told Caribbean Journal. “Winston has come back in at a very good level.”

Watt, 47, who retired from the sport after the 2002 games, is hoping to qualify for the 2-man bobsleigh (joined by team members Marvin Dixon and Wayne Blackwood, after the four-man team suffered a few crashes during qualifying, putting that side’s prospects in doubt.

A return in Sochi, he said, “would be so special.”

Above: Winston Watt

Whatever happens ahead of Sochi though, the plan is to develop a whole new squad going forward, with an eye toward PyeongChang, South Korea in 2018.

“We’re in need of young athletes,” Watt says. “Maybe people who have Jamaican parents and live abroad.”

The team hopes that their efforts this year can rekindle interest in the team, particularly at home.

“I think it’s very important to establish a presence and jumpstart the sport,” Stokes said.

What hasn’t changed in nearly 26 years is the sheer popularity of the green, black and gold abroad.

“We are the most popular team in the world,” he says, mentioning a Lake Placid bar owner who spotted the team and immediately invited them for supper. “People love us everywhere we go.”

For more info, or to find out about how to sponsor the team, email Watt at watt4@hotmail.com or Stokes at cstokes@jamaicabobsleighteam.com.

Popular Posts

The 10 Best Overwater Bungalows in the Caribbean, From Aruba to Belize

Overwater villas at Caribbean resorts aren’t just a novelty — they’re also among the most luxurious and beautiful accommodations you can stay in. And while all of the bungalows perched above the waves have their charms, some stand out among […]


The 10 Best Luxury All-Inclusive Resorts in the Caribbean, From Antigua to Jamaica

all-inclusive hammock cove

All-inclusive resorts are more popular than ever, particularly in the Caribbean. The all-inclusive concept just keeps winning over travelers, who have been drawn to the ease, comfort and convenience of the concept. But the biggest thing within the space isn’t […]


The Bahamas’ Atlantis Paradise Island Just Completed a $150M Renovation

walking on the beach in nassau

A new eatery by Michelin-star Chef Michael White. A new-look casino. State-of-the-art guest rooms and the Caribbean’s first Shake Shack.  The Bahamas’ Atlantis Paradise Island resort has officially completed a $150 million resort-wide renovation, a significant project that included a […]


Related Posts jamaica sunset

This Negril, Jamaica All-Inclusive Resort Is Reopening 

Negril, Jamaica’s famous treehouse hotel is back open again after the passage of Hurricane Beryl through the island.  Sunset at the Palms, the 85-room, adults-only, all-inclusive resort located in Negril, Jamaica, is reopening to guests on Saturday, July 20, after embarking […]


Caribbean Airlines Just Launched Its First Flights to Puerto Rico 

the beach at the caribe hilton

The Caribbean aviation sector is hotter than ever: new flights, new routes and new-entry airlines have turned what was a quiet, lethargic sector into a competitive intra-regional market.  The Caribbean, which in the wake of LIAT’s demise was largely devoid […]


Post-Beryl, Grenadines the Center of Storm's Destruction

union island

“Decimated.” In a chat with Caribbean Journal, that’s the word Quirin Schaedle (known locally as King King) uses to describe the post-Hurricane Beryl landscape across St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but more specifically the Grenadine chain. The director/owner of real […]


SUBSCRIBE!

Sign up for Caribbean Journal's free newsletter for a daily dose of beaches, hotels, rum and the best Caribbean travel information on the net.


No. Thank You