Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Fire on Ice! ... Mayhew looks forward to historic bobsled competition

Published:Saturday | January 23, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Lowe
Daniel Mayhew during a recent workout session at the Technique Lab in Half-Way Tree.

Meet 17-year-old Daniel Mayhew.

He cannot drive a car, but he is quite competent, and on evidence, very comfortable guiding a bobsleigh downhill at 110km/h.

The Charlemont High school student will head off to a training camp next week before taking his place as Jamaica's first representative at the Winter Youth Olympic Games where he will feature in the Monobob competition.

Remember that movie Cool Runnings?

Well this is yet another version of Jamaicans defying logic and excelling on ice.

Mayhew's case becomes even more outstanding when the fact that he only stepped in a bobsleigh for the first time a mere 11 months ago at a Swiss training camp is taken into consideration.

"I can't recall exactly what I was feeling, but I know I was very nervous at first. They started me at the middle of the track, so that I didn't get as much speed as I would if I started at the top," Mayhew recollected during a recent chat with The Gleaner.

HEARD HORROR STORIES

He heard many horror stories before that maiden voyage, but his first few runs were incident free, and as his confidence grew, so did his popularity among the other young athletes at the camp.

The Jamaican, who lives in the St Catherine community Orange Field, which was also home to former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell, went on to win two 'B' finals and book his place among the qualifiers for the February 12 - 21 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

"I am a little bit surprised. I was the underdog and coming out on top in the B finals shows that I am going somewhere and I can see that I am improving my driving skills and my overall performance," Mayhew added.

"Going to the Olympic Games is a really extraordinary feeling. When I finished my qualifying run and knew that I qualified, it was an overwhelming feeling. I am hoping to get a medal possibly even the gold. The potential is there for me to do it, all I have to do is listen to my coach and I know I can come out on top," he said.

It was that well-rounded coach Harry Nelson, his eighth grade physical education teacher, who took the academic enthusiast out of a class one day and greeted him with the words: "I am have mission for you. You are going to compete in the bobsled."

Hard words to process for a teenager, who had little interest in actually competing in sports. But Nelson, who was impressed with the form shown during eight grade PE, was convinced he had the potential.

"At first I was not attracted to the sport, it all happened really suddenly ... I really wasn't that interested at first; who wants to do that (bobsled)?" he laughed. "It's a very different experience, but it has been extraordinary."

Mayhew, who has passed eight subjects all with ones and twos has hopes to become a commercial pilot in the future but is, however, happy that he decided to take the leap in the bobsleigh and is looking to do his best in Norway.

But has he seen the movie Cool Runnings?

"I saw that movie before. It was really just like any other movie to me. It really wasn't that interesting to me at first, but before I left I watched it again because I had a feeling people were going to ask me about it," he laughed.

Maybe his story will play a part in a sequel.