Jamaica’s four-man bobsled team competing in the Olympics for the first time in 24 years

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 marks the first time they have qualified for three events for the 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's four-man bobsled team
Twitter

“Jamaica, we have a bobsled team heading to Beijing! It will be fire on ice as #TeamJamaica secured their spot 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 to announce its roster, but Shanwayne Stephens, a lance corporal in the Royal Air Force, is expected to lead the four-man sled with members Rolando Reid, Ashley Watson, and Matthew Wekpe.

A Team Jamaica member during the women's monobob qualifying event
Twitter

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 last time Jamaica competed and had a four-man sled team was at the 1998 Winter Olympics held in Nagano, Japan. However, they have competed in the two-man bobsled team several times, including 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2014, with a best finish of 14th.

Jamaica's four-man bobsled team
Twitter

On the other hand, Jamaica’s two-woman bobsled debuted in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

Because of the coronavirus lockdowns, training for the Beijing Games has been more difficult than ever for the bobsled team. Some members even resorted to pushing a Mini Cooper down a road in England to recreate the movement involved in 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.

Jamaica's two-man bobsled team
Twitter

Jamaica made its Winter Olympics debut with its famous four-man bobsled team in 1988 at the Calgary 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.

The 2022 Games is the first Winter Olympics since the first Jamaican bobsled driver, Sam Clayton, Jr., passed away.

Team Jamaica also introduced their first-ever alpine skier, Benjamin Alexander, who will represent the country in Beijing. The former DJ raised in Great Britain made history by becoming the first Jamaican skier to qualify for the Winter Olympics in the giant slalom under the B criteria.

Benjamin Alexander waving Jamaica's flag atop a snowy mountain
Twitter

A GoFundMe has since been set up to help fund the sleds needed for the team to participate in Beijing. In order to secure two monobobs and a four-man bobsled, the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Foundation requires $200,000. The four-man sled itself already costs a whopping $140,000.

China recently canceled plans to sell tickets to the public for the Beijing Games as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country just reached its highest.

The opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics is set for February 4.

Congratulations to Team Jamaica’s bobsled team for the triumphant return!

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