Thursday’s practice runs for the Jamaican bobsled team, featured four riders. Credit… Photograph by Thomas Peter/Reuters
When the Jamaican four-man bobsled team made their Olympic debut in 1988, the story went on to inspire the much-adored Disney film “Cool Runnings.” Additionally, the unlikely underdogs from Jamaica helped to familiarise the sport with the general public, which was a significant contribution to the development of the sport.
And on Saturday, Jamaica will enter the Olympic competition with a four-man bobsled team for the first time since the 1998 Winter Games. Shanwayne Stephens will be the ones to drive their sled, and Rolando Reid, Ashley Watson, and Matthew Wekpe will be the athletes responsible for pushing it.
Stephens made those remarks earlier this week after competing in the two-man bobsled event. “I think it’s everybody’s ambition to represent their nation, and we’re here doing it, living it, and breathing it,” Stephens said. “We’re here doing it, living it, and breathing it.”
In the four-man bobsled race that will take place on Saturday, Jamaica will be one of the 28 teams competing. The best teams will compete in the championship round on Sunday.
The fact that Jamaica is still in the competition, despite being ranked dead last after Saturday’s first two heats, might be considered a victory in itself. Germany is now in the first place, with teams currently occupying both the first and second slots.
The Jamaican crew is, in some senses, getting more involved in the story of the film. To begin, Wekpe always has an egg with him, just like the fictional brakeman Sanka Coffie in the movie. This egg is made of plastic.
However, they also want to tell their own version of the tale. In point of fact, the group made a recording of a song in order to communicate its message. The words of the song begin, “We’re not recorded a song”
Stephens stated in an interview that was published on the official website of the Olympics that “We want to prove we’re truly fierce competitors, and we’re out there to put on a really good performance at the Games.”
Originally from Jamaica, Reid attended Morgan State University, a historically black college in Maryland, where he competed in track and field. 2019 marked the beginning of his adventure in bobsledding, which was sparked after his brother expressed an interest in the sport.
Reid went back to his alma college, where he had previously competed on the track team, to train with them in preparation for the Games. The former track and field star stated that he did not begin teaching himself how to sprint on ice until the month of September when he gave an interview to The Baltimore Sun.
Reid is not the only member of the team that is just getting started in the sport. Wake, who has competed for Jamaica in the international arena in the sport of rugby, only started training with the bobsled squad a year ago, in the midst of a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus.
The most experienced members of the Jamaican team are Stephens, who serves as the pilot, and Watson, who is one of the pushers. Watson, who is originally from Peterborough, England, began sledding for the first time in 2013, although he took a break from the sport for a while before picking it up again lately. After joining the Royal Air Force in 2015, Stephens, who was born in Jamaica but raised in Britain, started sledding for the first time. Stephens spent his childhood in Britain.
Early on in the pandemic, it came to light that Stephens’s exercise routine during the lockdown consisted of walking around Peterborough while pushing his fiancee’s car. This information caused him to gain widespread media attention. (When Stephens described his workout routine to Queen Elizabeth II over a video conversation, Her Majesty laughed and said, “Well, I suppose that’s one way to train.”) Stephens’ story prompted Her Majesty to comment, “Well, I suppose that’s one way to train.”
The significance of Jamaica’s participation in the bobsled competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics does not end there. The nation also has a team competing in the two-man bobsled event and a female athlete competing in the mono bob competition, which is an individual sledding event that made its Olympic debut. This is the first time that the nation has qualified for all three bobsledding events in a single Olympic competition.