Jamaican Bobsled Team
The tropical island's first representative at the Winter Olympics
by Gerry Brown
It had to be a joke, right?
That was naturally people's first response to the news that the Caribbean nation of Jamaica, best known for reggae and dreadlocks, was sending a bobsled team to the Olympics. The tropical island had never had a representative at the Winter Olympics before.
But despite their seemingly oxymoronic existence, the Jamaican bobsled team made its Olympic debut in 1988 at Calgary.
The eventual subjects of the 1993 Disney comedy, Cool Runnings, the Jamaicans were no joke. Although the inexperienced team finished in last place, they won the notice of the world when they proved irresistible to the throngs of media present at the Games.
The obviously heavy underdogs became crowd favorites and showed they were not a flash in the pan by making return appearances at the Winter Olympics. In fact, at Lillehammer in 1994, Jamaica's four-man sled finished in 14th place, ahead of both sleds from the United States.
At second glance, the idea of a Jamaican bobsled team is not completely crazy. Jamaica, after all, has a proud tradition of sprinters, and the four-man bobsled requires some swift feet to get off quickly in the all-important push start.