Whistler 2010- No Cool Runnings Mon
Many of us remember the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics for the debut of the Jamaican 4-man bobsled team. It inspired the making of the Disney film, Cool Runnings and seemed to make Jamaica and bobsledding almost synonymous.
This year it is saddening to report that while Jamaica still has its bobsled program, the team failed to qualify for the Whistler 2010 Olympics. It fell two sleds short, according to The Associated Press.
The Original Team
Although the team finished in last place, back in 1988, they managed to become fan darlings for their perseverance and their quick starting speed.
The stereotypical portrayal of Jamaicans as nothing more than pot smoking Rastafarians, with no ambition or drive was totally debunked once the team gained popularity and respect.
Cool Runnings, while only loosely based on the actual Jamaican bobsled team, was close enough to reality to give the team endless notoriety.
As the Jamaican contingent marched in the opening ceremonies, the absence of the bobsled team was noticeable and mentioned by commentators.
Originally the team consisted of
Patrick Brown (Coach)
Dudley Stokes (Captain)
Click on this 2002 Sports Illustrated link to re-read their incredible Olympic journey.
Original 1988 Crash at Calgary Olympics
Devon Harris-Original Member’s Tearful Interview
Understandably, failing to qualify made for an emotionally packed telephone interview with original Jamaican team member, Devon Harris.
“I’m in tears, man. It’s one of those things. It’s highly disappointing. Our team worked very hard and fell short.”
Harris stated the team would be back for the 2014 Olympics, as they were not going to let this failure stop their future goals.
“We intend to come back and come back huge,” Harris said. “This is not the end.”
While there was a small chance the team could advance if another country dropped out, apparently that window of opportunity has passed and Jamaica has no hope of being a last minute substitution.
Had the team succeeded, it would have been a 22 year milestone reached after the 1988 team qualified for the Calgary Olympics
Bio of Driver Hannukkah Wallace
- Hannukkah Wallace's Biography
Understandably speculation abounds as to why Wallace's first name is Hannukkah. He doesn't appear to be Rastafarian, which would explain the name, but perhaps his parents were, some speculate.
Meet Jamaican’s Current Driver
His name is Hannukkah Wallace (not a typo) and he is the only driver the nation can afford to pay.
As was the case with the original team members, Wallace’s roots are in track and field.
He has been with the team for 3 years, which is not long in a sport in which drivers require 5,7, even 10 years of experience to reach the height of their abilities.
Even still, Wallace did manage to rank in the top 50 of the 4-man world sled rankings.
He needs to move up a few more spots to better contend with other countries.
Jamaican Program Still Underfunded
Would it surprise you to know that the Jamaican bobsled program to this day suffers with substandard equipment and insufficient funding?
Or that they still rely on the kindness of other countries to get a proper sled?
American Todd Hays provided equipment and expertise before he himself had to retire earlier this year, after a terrible crash in his bobsled.
It is rumored he might be offered the coaching position as Jamaica gears up to add more drivers and sleds for the upcoming 2014 winter games in Sochi Russia.
Such improvements would at least give them better chances to win and gain experience between now and 2014.
Well even though they will not participate in the Olympics they will still be attending the games and will be able to at least share in the Olympic experience.
After the Olympics have concluded they will concentrate on their rebuilding program and continue training and preparing for the seasons to come.
For all of us who remember their Olympic debut and asked ourselves, “how did Jamaicans learn to bobsled with no ice?”
At least we know they are still around and kicking, they still use sprinters, and they still strive to be the best their training and equipment allow them to be.
Hopefully we can look forward to seeing them race competitively at the 2014 Games, and perhaps nostalgia will even cause NBC to update their story and introduce the viewing audience to this year’s team.
Dare we hope, perhaps some footage will be displayed to the viewing audience?
In the meantime, if you have yet to see Cool Runnings, it is priced at a steal on Amazon.com, why not pick up a DVD and learn how the team and the concept came together way back when.
As for the rest of the worldwide field, the USA has many chances to medal in the 4-men and 2-men bobsled events. Both Steve Holcomb and John Napier have excellent teams. In fact Steve Holcomb's, Night Train, stands in the #1 position overall in the world rankings.
The US qualified 3 sleds, USA-1, USA-2, and USA-3.
The USA women have excellent chances to finish in the medals as well, as they rank in the top 10 world rankings.