AFRICANGLOBE – With a little bit of perseverance, Jamaica‘s Winston Watts qualified to pilot a bobsled at next month’s Olympics as the driver of a two-man team. Without additional funding, however, the island’s latest bobsleigh team might not actually appear in the Sochi Games.
Jamaica’s official Olympics Twitter account posted a message in apparent homage to Cool Runnings, the movie about the original Jamaican bobsleigh team.
John Turteltaub’s successful 1993 film starring John Candy was loosely based on the story of the team’s qualification for the 1988 Winter Olympics. It went on to become a cult classic and also showcased the Jamaican singer Jimmy Cliff, whose version of ‘I Can See Clearly’ featured in the film. Now the achievements of Watts and his partner Marvin Dixon have the makings of Cool Runnings II: Run Cooler.
Watts, 46, has been the catalyst for the resurgence, as he came out of retirement and contributed his own money while also raising funds to help himself and Dixon through qualification. He now hopes to compete in his fourth Olympics. Watts is a naturalised American who lives in Evanston, Wyoming – about an hour from Park City, Utah, where the USA bobsleigh team often trains.
The Jamaican Olympic Association offers the bobsleigh team little funding. Therefore Watts and Dixon have launched a number of fundraising initiatives, including setting up a PayPal account for donations. At the time of writing, the Jamaican bobsleigh team’s official website had crashed under the weight of visitors.
The team did not even have enough money to fly to St Moritz this weekend to compete in the final qualifying event. Instead, they waited and watched the results from home, hoping they would not be passed in the overall standings by too many teams. Although the Jamaicans appear to be in, Associated Press reported that the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation – the sport’s governing body – has not yet confirmed how many nations have qualified for the Olympic fields.
If Watts and Dixon, a former sprinter from Kingston, are able to make their way to Russia, it would be Jamaica’s first Olympic appearance in the bobsleigh since 2002.
“In truth, we still don’t really know at the moment if we’d even have enough funds or sponsorship to fly to Sochi itself for the Games itself,”Watts told the Daily Telegraph recently. “It all depends. Our families need to be taken care of first. If there’s no funding, who knows? But I’m one of life’s optimists,” he added. “Hopefully, the Jamaican Olympic Association will step in and support us now that we’ve qualified.”
By: Dan Lucas
Cool Runnings Trailer