New sleds for bobsleigh teams
By the end of December this year, Jamaica's male and female bobsleigh teams will have in their possession three new sleds, which Japanese manufacturers have donated.
The equipment is expected to greatly boost the teams' chances of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
A formal agreement for the provision of the sleds was signed between the manufacturers, Shitamachi Bobsleigh, and the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation during a ceremony at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, Masanori Nakano, on July 5.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, who was in attendance, expressed gratitude for the "superbly crafted" Shitamachi bobsleighs, while lamenting that the Jamaica bobsleigh team had become accustomed to using second-hand equipment, which was "borrowed, rented, or begged".
"They are accustomed to barely making it because of the lack of resources and funding, and they have still astonished the world. So, can you imagine when they get their own brand-new equipment?" she said.
She noted that since diplomatic relations began between Japan and Jamaica 52 years ago, both countries have benefited from excellent relations in cooperation, friendship, and trade.
She thanked the Japanese ambassador and the Shitamachi Bobsleigh Project team for "the vision that they have shown to extend the hand of friendship to the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation".
In his remarks, Nakano noted that this "historic signing", which brought together the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation and the Shitamachi Bobsleigh Project team was "a first step on their journey together towards making a reality Jamaica's goal of winning medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics".
President of the Jamaica Olympic Association Michael Fennell and acting president of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation, Nelson 'Chris' Stokes, along with the pilot of the male bobsleigh team, Joel Alexander, also welcomed the donation.
The Jamaican Bobsleigh team made its Olympic debut at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Canada, which inspired the 1993 movie Cool Runnings.