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Jamaican bobsled team crowdfunds for Sochi Olympics

The Jamaican bobsled team has turned to the Internet for help getting to the Winter Games next month.
Posted By Kate Stanton   |   Jan. 20, 2014 at 9:03 PM   |   Comments

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- They've come along way since Cool Runnings. After a 12-year absense from the games, Jamaica's bobsled team qualified for the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month, but they turned to crowd-funding to help them get there.

Sled driver Winston Watt gave several interviews last week claiming that he wasn't sure his team had the money to compete, prompting web fans to launch a series of social media campaigns to raise money for their Olympic dreams.

Jamaica's Olympic organizers said Monday that they could pay for the team's travel and accommodation, but not before fundraising efforts popped up on crowd-funding sites. The team said it still needs money for equipment and training costs.

Internet fans -- through IndieGogo, Crowdtilt and Reddit -- have collectively raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Olympic hopefuls. Then the founders of meme-based currency Dogecoin got in on the act, raising $30,000 worth of doggy funds to help the Jamaicans.

"As someone who grew up in the 90's, Cool Runnings was the ultimate feel good movie about underdogs out of their element achieving their dreams," founder Liam Butler told the Guardian. "We noticed the value of Dogecoin had more than doubled since we'd last checked so we raced back to my house to ensure we could get the best price for the donations in a form the team could actually use. As much as we have faith in Dogecoin to become the community currency of the internet, we still understand that the team need to buy their airfares in a fiat currency."

Team Jamaica has been working actively with web organizers to discuss campaign donations.

Chris Stokes, who was part of the 1988 team that inspired Cool Runnings, told Buzzfeed: "We are very thankful for the support we’ve gotten from so many people to finish this journey we’ve started."

He said that the team was working with the IndieGogo and Crowdtilt campaigns to ensure that "the next generation of Jamaican bobsledders can have a fair start.”

Stokes will lead the Jamaican delegation to the Olympics in February.

[The Telegraph, CNET, The Guardian, Buzzfeed]

Follow @KateStan and @UPI on Twitter.
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