The First Jamaican Bobsled Team
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We shocked the world in 1988 when the first Jamaican bobsled team participated in the 1988 Olympics Winter Games in Calgary, Canada.

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Many thought it was a joke!

But to be honest, I would understand the skeptics; You hardly expect a tropical paradise island to know enough about bobsled, more over to field a team and compete. But we did!

These bobsledders warmed the hearts of many worldwide in their first attempt at Olympic glory and was even immortalized in the popular Walt Disney movie Cool Runnings, which was released in 1993.

Jamaica ’s entry into the Winter Olympics started with the idea of two Americans who decided to take the sprinting talent that is so abundant in Jamaica and apply it to bobsledding.

However, the members of the Jamaican sprint team at the time could not be convinced to take up the new sport of speed and ice.

So the two Americans, George Fitch and William Maloney, turned their attention to the Jamaica Defence Force where they presented their idea to Colonel Ken Barnes - the rest is history.

The first four members of the Jamaican bobsled team were:

  1. Devon Harris, a Lieutenant in the Second Battalion, Jamaican Army
  2. Dudley Stokes, a captain from the JDF Air Wing
  3. Michael White, a private in the National Reserves &
  4. Samuel Clayton, a railway engineer

Chris Stokes, the brother of Dudley joined the team later on.

The bobsled team was selected in September 1987 and did their initial training in Jamaica; practicing the push start on a flat concrete surface on the military base in Kingston using a make shift sled.

From there they went to Calgary, Canada where they went down a bobsled track for the first time.

After three weeks in Calgary it was off to Innsbruck Austria where they competed in two minor races before returning to Jamaica for the Christmas break. They spent the month of January in Lake Placid, New York before the Olympic Games in February 1988.

In this, the first games in 1988, the team was seen as a novelty as they had technical difficulties, injuries and crashes.

However, in the second games in 1992, the team had drastically improved. They had practiced hard for four years and were confident and focused.

The four-man team came in a amazing 14th! ahead of the United States, French, Russian and Italians teams.

This was just the beginning!

In the two-man event, the Jamaican team shocked the world by beating the Swedish national champions on their way to a 10th-place finish.

The team continued to improve and in 2000 they took gold at the World Push Championships in Monte Carlo in three events, and at the 2002 Olympics in Salt lake City, they posted the fasted start time at the World Cup.

This first Jamaican bobsled team has not only created a new interest in the sport here, they inspired a lot of us - myself included, to chant new frontiers, aim higher and seek to achieve even more.

See (this) my website? :-)

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaican_Bobsled_Team
http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20060729/sports/sports14.html
http://www.devonharrislive.com/bobsled.html
http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20050224/cook/cook2.html

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A patriotic Jamaican who adores his culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' - since April 2007.  

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