Jamaica national bobsleigh team
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The Jamaican national bobsleigh team represents Jamaica in international bobsledding competitions. The team first gained fame during their debut in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where they were seen as underdogs, representing a tropical nation in a winter sport. The team returned to the Winter Olympics again in 1992, 1994, and subsequent competitions. The team failed to qualify for the 2006, 2010, and 2014 Winter Olympics.
The team (consisting of Devon Harris, Dudley Stokes, Michael White, and Nelson Stokes) debuted at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. There they quickly became a fan favorite largely because of their status position as the ultimate 'underdog' story of the games. Not only was there the novelty of having a tropical country compete in a cold-weather sport, but they had very little practice going down a bobsled track before, and they borrowed spare sleds from other countries to compete. In a show of worldly brotherhood, other bobsledders were quick to give them guidance and support. They did not officially finish after losing control of the sled and crashing during one of their four runs. However, they showed significant improvement throughout the games and impressed observers with some fast starts.
This team was the inspiration for a major motion picture, Cool Runnings featuring John Candy as the team's coach. The characters in the film are fictional, although the original footage of the crash is used during the film. The film's depiction of the post-crash rescue was changed to show the bobsledders carrying the sled over the line on their shoulders for dramatic effect, although at the time of the crash the images of the Jamaicans walking their sled to the finish line while smiling and shaking hands with the crowds remains one of the truly powerful images of the Calgary games in its own right.
The team returned to the Olympics in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, but finished poorly. They qualified again for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. There, the Jamaican four sled stunned many of their critics by finishing in 14th place, ahead of the United States, Russia, Australia, France, and two sleds from Canada.
In 2000, the Jamaican bobsleigh team won the gold medal at the World Push Championships in Monaco. At the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, the 2-man team of Winston Watt (pilot) and Lascelles Brown (brakeman), set the Park City bobsled track record and the Olympic record for the push-start segment of the 2-man race at 4.78 seconds. Jamaica failed to qualify for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, or the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
After the 2002 Winter Olympics, Lascelles Brown moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where he married his Canadian girlfriend and became a Canadian resident. In 2004, Brown joined the Canadian bobsled team. In 2006, at the Turin Winter Olympics, with his Canadian driver Pierre Lueders, Brown won the Olympic Silver Medal (second place) for the 2-man bobsled event. At the Vancouver Games in 2010, Brown again raced for Canada, and received an Olympic Bronze Medal, when his Canadian 4-man team finished in third place. The successes of Watt and Brown have shown that Jamaica has the ability to produce world-class Winter Olympic athletes, which was one of the premises of the movie Cool Runnings.
In subsequent years after their initial success, the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team consisted of:
|Skeleton||Connor Da Costa|
The current team consists of:
|Pusher||Kyle Ferguson & Adrian Myers|
- Official Website for the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team
- Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation
- Video Interview With Devon Harris
- Devon Harris' interview with John Kline of Elevation Radio
- Visa 2010 Winter Olympics commercial on YouTube featuring photos and footage of the Jamaican team debut at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.