Sun | May 19, 2019

Stokes: Ja poised to flourish in bobsleigh

Published:Wednesday | February 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMAkino Ming/Staff Reporter
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange with Carrie Russell and Audra Segree, members of Jamaica's historic women's bobsleigh team that competed in the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Jamaican delegation arrived home on Monday night. Missing is US-based driver Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian.

Moments after arriving at the Norman Manley International Airport from the Winter Olympic Games on Monday night, president of the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, Chris Stokes, said he and other members of the association will begin recruiting athletes for bobsleigh and skeleton immediately to participate in the World Championships next year in Canada.

The Jamaica women's bobsleigh team was the centre of attention at the Winter Games after their historic qualification.

"We have a bobsleigh training school coming up in March and April in New York. We will be sending several athletes there. We have a very young, capable men's team that we will be sending there. They missed qualification by one spot, and I think with some work, they will get better," Stokes said.

He said he will be looking for athletes who have shown speed and strength capabilities.

"We are looking for people who are disciplined in training who can put up with uncertainty and hardship," Stokes said. "We will be looking across a range of sports - track and Field, rugby and volleyball. It just so happens that over the last few years we got quite a few athletes from the track and field fraternity, but we will be looking at other sports."

Stokes said the women's participation has laid the foundation for the country to flourish in the sport.

"They represented the country well and have set up us nicely to deepen our participation in women's bobsleigh," Stokes said.

The team of Fenlator-Victorian, Russell and Segree finished 19th out of 20 teams in the two-man bobsleigh competition.

"We were hoping to do much better in the games but we did have some technical challenges with the sled and the ice temperature but the girls did their thing and represented us very well," Stokes said.

Minister of Sports Olivia Grange, who was among those who welcomed home the athletes, said that the Government will be providing funding for the federation.

"I want to tell you also that the Government will be providing some money. I am not going to say how much now," Grange said.

She added: "According to conventional wisdom, we had no business participating there. Thirty years ago when the men decided to train with makeshift sleds and went to the Olympics the world was just awed and then now we have our women being out there and qualifying and are now one of the top 20 teams in the world. For a country that doesn't have snow, it is a big thing."