Cool Runnings - Fans race to sledders' assistance with much-needed funds
Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter
A warm outpouring of public support has pushed the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation (JBF) well beyond the US$80,000 targeted for the team's participation in this year's Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
According to the JBF, who addressed members of the media via a teleconference yesterday, somewhere in excess of US$120,000 has now been raised through various sources, including online currency sites Dogecoin, CrowdTilt and Indiegogo.
The Jamaican Olympic bobsleigh team rose to fame during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, a feat later chronicled in the 1993 Disney classic, Cool Runnings.
The team went on to appear at the Winter Olympics in 1992, 1994, 1998 and 2010, but failed to qualify for the 2006 and 2010 editions.
President of the JBF, Chris Stokes, admitted that the popularity of the '88 team and the subsequent movie had a lot to do with funds being garnered so quickly.
"Yes, that would have had something to do with it (movie). People know our struggle and what we go through to achieve the unlikely. They associate with us wondering what can be our Jamaica Winter Olympic moment," Stokes told journalists.
The president went on to state that the funds would go specifically towards expenses already incurred by the team during a lengthy preparation for the games.
The body will also look to cover the expenses of the team's training camp currently taking place in Evanston, Wyoming, Cool Runnings, and also for equipment - in particular for runners - which are the skates attached to the bobsled.
The team, which has now officially closed fundraising efforts, pledging that extra funds raised will go towards the continued development of the sport, are expected to be in Sochi by February 4 for the February 6 start of the Games.
They have also received the support of the Jamaica Olympic Association, who promised to cover the team's airfare. The two-man team and one reserve will include Winston Watts (driver), Marvin Dixon (brakesman) and Wayne Blackwood (reserve), as well as coach Thomas Samuel.
Competition for the two-man event will take place on February 19 and 20.