By Meisha Perrin
Jamaica’s bobsled team cleared one obstacle that was in the way of an appearance at the Winter Olympics in Russia next month — qualifying.
According to ESPN, Olympics organizers stated Saturday that the team qualified for the two-man competition at the Sochi Games, though the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation, the sport’s governing body, will not confirm until Sunday.
Now, the only obstacle the Jamaicans face to get to the games in February is funding, which also played a role in their absence from the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Jamaica first competed in Olympic bobsledding in 1988 at the Calgary Games, the story that inspired the famous “Cool Runnings” film. It has been 12 years since Jamaica has had a sled in the Olympics.
But 46-year-old sled driver Winston Watts, who has has been retired for almost 10 years, has held on to hope of sliding again on the sport’s biggest stage.
“We’re pretty good,” Watts said. “We’re not there with the rest of the world, of course. But we if had some more sources for funding, we’d have a better chance.”
Watts told the Associated Press Saturday that he’s trying to raise as much as $80,000 in the next few weeks to cover travel and equipment costs, as the team currently has no money at all.
Watts had originally been aiming for a four-man bobsled, but had to refocus and drop down to the two-man competition because of the expenses. Thus, he and brakeman Marvin Dixon pulled together enough points from events at tracks in Park City, Lake Placid and Calgary in recent months to secure a spot in the Sochi Games.
“I’m not a person who likes to quit,” Watts said. “I put my heart into it and I know for a fact that people are going to help this team.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.