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Jamaican bobsled team competing in Olympics for first time in 12 years

Jan. 20, 2014 at 11:08 PM

EVANSTON, Wyo., Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Jamaican bobsledders are headed to the Winter Olympics for the first time in 12 years, raising money they need for equipment by crowdsourcing.

The Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation announced Monday that its two-man bobsled team has qualified for the games in Sochi Russia. Winston Watts, the team captain in its last winter games in 2002, is the pilot and captain this time out.

Jamaica first competed in 1988 in Calgary, Alberta, becoming fan favorites and inspiring a movie, "Cool Runnings." Bobsledding had been selected as the tropical island's winter sport because the skills developed in the popular Jamaican sport of pushcart racing are useful in getting off to a fast start on the bobsled course.

The team trains in Evanston, Wyo. Watts, speaking to USA Today, said the bobsledders need about $80,000.

"It's coming together. I wouldn't say it's OK," Watts said. "We're still not giving up our hopes. We still have funding coming in and we're still open for fans and companies to come forth and help us."

The federation website was optimistic, saying $22,000 had been donated online since the team announced it needed cash.

In 1988, the Jamaicans crashed and did not actually finish. But in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994, a four-man Jamaican sled finished 14th, beating countries with a lot more snow, including the United States and Russia.

Lascelles Brown, Watts' brakeman in 2002 in Salt Lake City, changed teams after marrying his Canadian girlfriend. He was on the silver-medal winning Canadian two-man sled in 2006 in Turin, Italy.

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