The first Jamaican bobsled team who participated in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, are considered to be the symbol of the Olympic spirit. Even a movie has been released on them. The name of the movie was “Cool Running” and was loosely based on the four Jamaican bobsledders. Though, these men have hardly ever felt snow, but all wanted one thing. That is to prove that they were not jokes but true athletes.
It has been long fourteen years, when they brought reggae to the Winter Games. Although, the country could only afford to send a two-man team to Salt Lake City. The team has survived lot of difficulties and obstacles. They mainly lived on the kindness of strangers. They trained themselves in Evanston, Wyo., where the town offered them free rooms and the chance to earn some money by working as pizza deliverymen.
The team comprised of Chris Stokes, his brother Dudley, Devon Harris and Michael White. In their initial days, they were mocked down by the bobsled officials, who said that they were making a mockery of their sport. But, the fans in Calgary embraced them. Soon, they became collectors’ items. Even when the Jamaican sled had a end-over-end crash in the third run, the team only became more loved and more popular.
During the 1994 Lillehammer Games, the team was even able to beat a U.S. entry and finished 14th. After the win, one of the teammates commented, “Some people wanted us to be a joke, but those who knew the sport and understood athletics understood how serious we were and what a great accomplishment we had.”
Stokes during their popularity days, said “he is still convinced that with enough funding, the Jamaicans can have a competitive team.” though, he did add that to become the fastest-starting team, you need best equipment and training.
Michael White went on to become the president of the Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation. Dudley was the member of this federation and also owned a company. Chris Stokes worked for a savings and loan institution in the Jamaican capital of Kingston. Harris became a motivational speaker.