Jamaica’s men’s bobsleigh team famously turned heads at the 1988 Calgary Olympics, their ballsy attempt at the white-knuckle sliding sport later immortalised by the cult film “Cool Runnings”.
Thirty years on, a women’s team from the Caribbean island paradise are preparing to compete at the Pyeongchang Games — and they’re not entirely happy about Hollywood’s version of events.
“It’s really awesome that ‘Cool Runnings’ let people know about bobsleigh and that we do sports outside of track and field and football,” said driver Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, after training in the bitter Korean cold.
“But also sometimes it diminishes a little bit what the sport really is.
“We have a lot of those original members as part of our federation and hearing their story is so motivating,” added the 32-year-old.
“A lot of things in bobsleigh have stayed the same but a lot has changed and the struggles they went through for us to be able to have this opportunity — I think part of that gets missed (in the film).”
Fenlator-Victorian believes the 1993 comedy misses the mark, saying: “What we’re hoping to do is really bring that true story next to the movie to show that, yes it was great for the movie to introduce it, but this is really what bobsleigh is, this is truly what Jamaica is.”
The Jamaican ladies only recently sealed their Olympic qualification but showed impressive speed in finishing seventh at a World Cup event in Winterberg last December.
They will be targeting a top-10 finish at the Pyeongchang Games, which get under way on Friday.
The islanders also hope to strike a blow in an adrenaline-fuelled sport where the slightest mistake while tearing down a icy track at 150kph (93mph) can result in serious injury, or worse.
“It’s the first time ever women have represented our country in the Winter Olympics,” said Fenlator-Victorian, who competed for the United States in bobsleigh in Sochi four years ago before switching to her father’s native Jamaica.
“We don’t look at it as (Jamaica is) something special. We look at it as, hey, we dug up the road for you and we just hope that future generations can pave that way to continue gender equality and diversity in sport.”
The Jamaicans are driving a Latvian rental at the Olympics after a Japanese-built sled reportedly failed international competition specs.
But they insist their mojo will be working just fine once competition begins next week.
“You have to love bobsleigh and have a passion for it,” said Fenlator-Victorian. “That’s where champions come out.
“It’s a constant challenge, so much goes into that one minute,” she added.
“I actually really wasn’t attracted to the cold weather, but once a competitor in your heart, you’re always a competitor.”
Source: Jamaica Observer