For the first time in over two decades, Jamaica will have a four-man bobsled team competing at the Olympics—in Beijing, this time. In a tweet, Team Jamaica announced that they competed and qualified for the event and two other bobsled events—the two-man bobsled and the new event woman’s monobob—at the upcoming Olympics.
This is the first time they have qualified to compete in three events in winter sport.
Based on this season’s international results, Jamaica earned the final spot in the 28-sled field in qualification for the Beijing Games.
“Jamaica, we have a bobsled team heading to Beijing! It will be a fire on the ice as #TeamJamaica secured their place at the 2022 Beijing #WinterOlympics. This will be the 1st time JAM has qualified in 3 Olympic bobsled events: four-man, two-man and women’s monobob.”
Jamaica has yet not announced its roster. However, Shanwayne Stephens is a lance corporal with the Royal Air Force and will lead the four-man sled along with Rolando Reid, Ashley Watson and Matthew Wekpe.
After Jamaica’s big announcement, Stephens, 29, wrote on Twitter: “We made it.”
“@Beijing2022 here we come. 24 years since we’ve had a 4man crew,” he tweeted.
The 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan was the last time Jamaica had a four-man team. They have been in the two-man team bobsled several times, including 1992 and 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2014, with a 14th place finish.
On the other hand, Jamaica’s two-woman bobsled debuted in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
Training for the Beijing Games was more difficult for the bobsled teams due to the coronavirus lockdowns. Some members even tried pushing a Mini Cooper along a road in England in order to recreate the sport.
“We’ve had people run over, thinking the car’s broken down, trying to help us bump-start the car. When we tell them we’re the Jamaica bobsleigh team, the direction is totally different, and they’re very excited,” Stephen told Reuters.
In 1988, Jamaica’s famous four-man bobsled team made its debut at the Winter Olympics. The group didn’t finish the race thanks to a crash on the ice—an incident that led to their popularity as underdogs. The 1993 Disney film “Cool Runnings” took inspiration from their famous run.
2022 Games is the first Winter Olympics after Sam Clayton, Jr., the first Jamaican Bobsled driver, died.
Benjamin Alexander, the first ever alpine skier from Jamaica, was also introduced by Team Jamaica. Alexander will represent Jamaica at Beijing. The former DJ, who was raised in Great Britain, became the first Jamaican skier under the B criteria to qualify for the Winter Olympics in the giant Slalom.
To help pay for the sleds required by the team to compete in Beijing, a GoFundMe was created. The Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Foundation needs $200,000. The cost of the four-man sled alone is a staggering $140,000
China has recently cancelled plans to sell tickets for the Beijing Games to the public, as the number COVID-19 cases in China just reached its highest.
The Winter Olympics opening ceremony will be held on February 4.
Congratulations to Team Jamaica’s bobsled team for the triumphant return!
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