Ice in Kingston
An unforgettable first time: The Jamaican bobsleigh team
In the cinemas of the United States during the autumn of 1993, the film “Cool Runnings” climbed all the ratings and was often sold out of tickets.
It certainly wasn’t like a modern-day Marvel’s film or even a high-budget colossal, but the genuineness of the story made it a viral phenomenon.
This film told the true story of one of the most incredible sports events ever seen: Jamaica’s first participation in the Winter Olympics, with a bobsleigh team! Yes, you read that right. Jamaican bobsleigh team. The participation of this team was shocking to the people of that time. A tropical island that shows up at the Winter Olympics: the film could only be a huge success.
We recommend everyone to see this movie at least once, but now we would like to tell you about the true story of this incredible sports adventure.
The team’s appearance on the ice tracks of the 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary, Alberta, is still one of the iconic moments of the Olympics. It made sense if they were treated like underdogs in that competition because they were the candidates from a country with a warm climate representing their nation in the cold-weather sport. This sentence is itself an ironic statement, so you can imagine the spotlight and popularity they gained when they entered for the first time.
The first person to bring light to Jamaicans that they should compete in the Winter Olympics was George B. Fitch. He was the Commercial Attache for the American embassy in Kingston. He said that Jamaica had great athletes, and they should be able to play any sport. The idea of bobsled was given by Fitch and his friend William Maloney, a businessman. They saw locals pushing pushcarts thereby.
The members pushed themselves out of the damaged sleigh, forced the sleigh to move out of the track, and then carried it. At that precise moment, each spectator was emotionally pushing the bob with them. They were listed as not finishing the race as the team didn’t complete its run. The bob was too damaged, and they didn't participate in the fourth and last round of the event.
After their first time, the Jamaican team participated in six Olympic games in a bobsled event.
Presently the Jamaican bobsleigh team prepares for both, men and women category. But they lack funding. Tod Hay, the former coach of Dutch and US bobsleigh teams and the former Olympic winner in the 2014 Winter Olympics, was appointed as the technical director and the head coach of the Jamaican team. However, the funds raised were not enough to fulfil his salary, so he had to quit after playing with the team only for one season. But a mentor always looks out for his or her disciples; Hay did the same. Though the funds were a problem to be with the team officially for him, he remained connected to the team and worked with them in a capacity, unofficially. The Jamaican Women’s Bobsleigh team was formed around the year 2018. Dudley Stokes was appointed as the one responsible for the general logistics, mental health of the players, and performance coach.
About Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, the men’s team was left behind the qualifications by only one position in the world rankings. The Jamaican women’s team ended up at 19th position in their debut Olympics.
So the tale of the snowless bobsledders still continues, and from 2018 onwards, it will also have pink shades.