NEW YORK, NY - The anticipation is palpable as the countdown begins to Feb. 10th and the appearance of the Jamaican bobsled team in the Winter Olympics for the first time in 24 years.
Fans are looking for “Cool Runnings” 2 as they recall the original 1988 team that inspired the 1993 Hollywood movie, ‘Cool Runnings.’
It will be the first time Jamaica will be represented in 3 Olympic bobsled events: four-man, two-man and the women’s monobob.
The four-man team is made up of Shanwayne Stephens, Ashley Watson, Matthew Wekpe, Nimroy Turgott, and Rolando Reid.
“We’re more than just a movie,” says Stephens, who pilots both the two-man bob and Jamaica’s first four-man crew since Nagano 1998. “We want to show we’re actually fierce competitors and we’re out there to put on a really good performance at the Games.”
Stephens, who is also a UK RAF sniper and has been improvising his training using his girlfriend’s Mini Cooper.
In 2020, Stephens, a lance corporal in the Royal Air Force, made headlines in Great Britain for unusual off-ice training during the coronavirus pandemic: pushing a Mini Cooper in Peterborough. He later mentioned it to Queen Elizabeth II on a video chat.
“Well, I suppose that’s one way to train,” the queen said with a laugh.
“We’re absolutely over the moon,” Stephens told ABC News’ Kyra Phillips recently. “It’s been a lot of struggles over the last four years to obviously achieve what we’ve achieved, and we’ve done absolutely everything in our power and everybody’s come together as one team to be able to qualify for the games.”
“It’s been absolutely amazing, and everybody is really excited and can’t wait to get to Beijing and perform,” he added.
Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian is readying for her third winter games in Beijing, four years after making history with Jamaica’s first women’s Olympic bobsled team. She already made Jamaican sports history again. And will represent Jamaica in the women’s monobob competition.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) will sponsor the Jamaica bobsled team to this year’s Winter Olympics. According to the JTB, the sponsorship of US$20,000 will go to the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, the organization that supports and oversees these athletes.
The best-ever finish for a Jamaican bobsled team is 14th, giving this year’’ squads something to aim for as they make their Olympic return. The last time Jamaica had a four-man sled was at the 1998 Nagano Games. That was also the last time the Olympic team had a link to the famed 1998 quartet – brothers Chris and Dudley Stokes. Stokes is now the president of Jamaica’s bobsled federation.
Beijing also marks the first Winter Games since the death of the first Jamaican bobsled driver, Sam Clayton.
Jamaica will also have a skier at the Winter Olympics for the second time in history, and for the first time in Alpine skiing.
Benjamin Alexander, a former DJ raised in Great Britain, qualified a quota spot for the nation in giant slalom.
The Beijing Olympics opened earlier today as the Jamaican team entered the stadium led by flag bearers Benjamin Alexander (alpine skiing) and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian (bobsled).
Jamaica’s two man bob sled team – Heat will be held on Feb. 10, 2022 – Yanqing National Sliding Centre
Women’s Monobob Official Training Heat 2 – Feb. 10 – Yanqing National Sliding Centre
Alpine Skiing – Fe. 5, – Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre.
*Rewritten from multiple sources including NBC News and the UK Guardian.