Jamaica’s coolest runners are back on Olympic ice

Winston Alexander Watt and Lascelles Oneil Brown of Jamaica in JAM-1, pushes off during the men’s two-man bobsled at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in Park City, Utah, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2002.
AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta, File

Anyone who thought it was a fluke that a team from the Caribbean island of Jamaica qualified to compete in the 1998 Winter Olympics can now re-think the phenomenon because on Feb. 7, a delegation from the island will once again parade the black, green and gold banner during the opening ceremony of the competition in Sochi, Russia.

A press release from Michael Fennell, president of the Jamaica Olympic Association confirmed reports that a two-man bobsled team will represent Jamaica at the Winter Olympics.

“The Jamaica Olympic Association congratulates our two-man team, which has qualified to participate in the Winter Olympic Games,” the statement read.

“We are not going there to bring up the rear, I hate losing,” Winston Watts said, “We are all going there to work hard, and if we execute, you will see a good result.”

On this year’s outing a team comprised of Watts (driver), Marvin Dixon (brakeman), Wayne Blackwood (reserve crew), Nelson Christian Stokes (chef de mission), Thomas Samuel (coach) will represent the island/nation.

The 2014 appearance of a Jamaican national team marks a re-emergence since 2002 when bobsled driver Winston Watts and Lascelles Brown finished 28th at the Salt Lake City Games held here in the United States of America.

Jamaica first qualified for the Winter Olympics in 1988 in Calgary, Canada. Some considered the entry of a tropical nation a novelty.

Five years later, Disney Films hailed the team’s mettle and their quest to tackle the athletic ice competition by releasing a movie billed “Cool Runnings.”

The film yielded a box-office blockbuster and may have established a reputation for the island as Olympic-ready regardless of season – summer or winter.

The two-man bobsled team will compete on Feb. 19 and 20.

To any skeptic who disqualified the island’s participation in 2006 and 2010, know that it was only lack of funding that kept Jamaica’s coolest runners from competing on Olympic ice in Torino, Italy and Vancouver, Canada.

Watts hopes that the business community in Jamaica will support the Sochi team with similar confidence as they embrace track and field athletes who compete in the summer games.

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