Cool Runnings: Jamaica to Field Bobsled Team at 2022 Beijing Olympics for First Time in Two Decades

by Taylor Cunningham
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Jamaican bobsledders are heading to the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

The country narrowly qualified for three bobsled competitions this year, which is a record for the Caribbean Island.

Jamaica won the final spot in the 28-sled field and two-man events during the qualification rounds. And they also earned a place in the women’s monobob event.

The two-woman team lost a chance at Beijing during a tiebreaker race. However, they’re the first alternate should a nation have to give up a spot.

The country’s Olympic Instagram page posted the good news this morning saying, “BREAKING: JAMAICA, WE HAVE A BOBSLED TEAM HEADING TO BEIJING!”

“It will be fire on ice as #TeamJamaica secured their spot at the 2022 Beijing #WinterOlympics,” the post continues. “This will be the 1st time JAM has qualified in 3 Olympic bobsled events: four-man, two-man, and women’s monobob.”

Though Jamaica hasn’t released its official 2022 Beijing Olympics roster yet, NBC Sports has a few guesses about who will be on the list. According to the publication, Shanwayne Stephens will likely drive the four-man sled. And because Rolando Reid, Ashley Watson, and Matthew Wekpe have consistently been his push team, they’ll likely join him on the run.

Stephens made a name for himself after training for the event by pushing a Mini Coopers in Peterborough, England. After making headlines, even Queen Elizabeth was impressed and later told the Olympian, “well. I suppose that’s one way to train.”

2022 Beijing Olympics: The Jamaican Bobsled Team Inspired Disney’s ‘Cool Runnings’

While the country has sent bobsled teams to Olympic competitions in recent years, they have only been two-man teams. A four-man group hasn’t qualified since 1988.

And though that particular team didn’t finish the event, the story still inspired Disney’s 1993 film Cool Runnings, which starred John Candy and Doug E. Doug.

The film is one of the highest-grossing sports films of all time. But according to director Jon Turteltaub, the movie was far from accurate.  

“We just kept refining the true story to make it into a better movie,” Turteltaub said, “We would never get away today with the changes we made to the true story.”

As the Olympics website says, the only factual event in the film is the crash. However, it didn’t happen during the final run. So, the team was never able to complete their event.

The four Olympians also didn’t carry their sled over the finish line at the end. And the crash was not caused by a mechanical error. Instead, it happened because the team was inexperienced.

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