Photo: Courtesy of @tampatra
For the first time in 24 years, Jamaica is sending a four-man bobsled team to the Olympics. Based on international results this season, Jamaica secured the final spot in the 28-sled field in qualification for the Beijing Games (olympicsnbcsports.com). Not since the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, has Jamaica qualified to compete in the four-man bobsled event. In addition, this will be the first time that Jamaica has qualified in three Olympic bobsled events: four-man, two-man, and women's monobob.
The four-man team is expected to include pilot Shanwayne Stephens and brakeman Nimroy Turgott (dailyhive.com). Two more members will be chosen from Ashley Watson, Rolando Reid, and Matthew Wepke (dailyhive.com).
Jamaica competed for the first time with a four-man bobsled team in the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games—the group that inspired the movie Cool Runnings. However, when the Jamaican team stands atop the bobsleigh track at Beijing 2022, they will be far from the rookie group that raced in 1988 (dailyhive.com). The crew has spent the last four years competing in qualifying quad races worldwide, going up against the best teams and powerhouse nations like Canada, Germany, and Latvia (dailyhive.com). They are an experienced team and are going to compete.
However, there have been challenges along the way. During the pandemic lockdowns, Jamaica's team had to find creative ways to train. Determined not to lose ground in their Olympic preparations, Stephens and Turgott pushed a car up and down the street of an English neighborhood to simulate the pushing of a bobsled. According to Stephens, "You have to push a bobsleigh, and they weigh an average of 170 to 225 kilos, so it's a lot of weight that we have to move over a short distance very quickly. So, in terms of the training, it was an accurate representation of what we have to do" (insider.com). Stephens even set up a weight training area in his back yard, creating a "home gym" out of timber and cement-weighted buckets (insider.com).
While winning a medal might be a lofty goal, the team has a more realistic target of beating the best Jamaican Olympic bobsled team finish of 14th (dailyhive.com). But you never know. As Stephen says, “You’ve got to be there to be in it to win it, and we’re there, so we’re going to go and try and win a medal” (dailyhive.com).