Jamaican Bobsled Team Doesn't Need Medal to Be Winner in Sochi

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2014

Dita Alangkara/AP Images

After a 12-year hiatus, the Jamaican bobsled team was back in Olympic action on Sunday, and this time you could enjoy their slide down the ice while listening to their official theme song, “The Bobsled Song.”

Amazingly enough, the tune was specifically designed to sync with Sochi’s bobsleigh course at the Sanki Sliding Center in the Caucasus Mountains.

Like the outrageously awesome music video itself, the two-man Jamaican bobsled team, comprised of Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon, is one of the more interesting and attractive human interest stories of these Sochi Games.

Unlike more serious and divisive issues in Sochi, such as Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda,” there seems to be no polarizing opinions on Jamaica’s bobsledders. Everyone loves them.

According to Stacy St. Clair of the Los Angeles Times, the team is celebrated virtually everywhere they go in Sochi:

Making their first Olympic appearance since 2002, the Jamaican bobsled team has enjoyed rock-star status here. Giddy volunteers clap when they walk by, reporters line up for interviews and fellow Olympians continually ask them to pose for pictures.

"All the people here like us," Watts told St. Clair. "No, that's not correct. I should say all the people here love us. We are a caring people and we love them too."

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The Jamaican bobsled team has been a winter attraction since 1988, the year it made its Olympic debut at Calgary. The team returned to the Winter Games in 1992, 1994, 1998 and 2002 but failed to qualify again until this year.

As you can guess, people were elated to see the Jamaicans make it back.  

So much so, in fact, that folks from all over the world and all walks of life helped raise money for their pending trip:

While their popularity can partly be attributed to the novelty factor of having a subtropical country like Jamaica competing in a winter sport, the endurance of the worldwide doting on Jamaica might also be connected to the 1993 Disney classic Cool Runnings, a movie loosely depicting Jamaica’s first foray into the sport starring late comedian John Candy:

In the film, the four-man Jamaican team was eliminated from competition after a crash. This reflected actual events in the 1988 team’s run, though the film’s version of the team was much more competitive than the real one consisting of Dudley Stokes, Devon Harris, Michael White and Chris Stokes.

But 2014’s two-man team didn't fall out of contention with a crash. Heck, they were probably never really in contention in the first place. As you might have guessed, the Jamaicans are not stalwarts of winter sports and posted an official time of 58.42 in their first heat on Sunday, putting them in dead last. 

They made up no ground in Heat 2, finishing with an official time of 58.81. Jamaica trails the leaders, Russia, by 4.41 seconds.

But no matter how well the Jamaicans do in Sochi, people simply love to cheer for them, and that’s something worth noting during these Winter Games.

Even other countries cheer for them:

People just want to capture the moment with them.

Whether they're sliding down the track at speeds in excess of 125 kilometers per hour or just roaming around the Olympic Village, these guys are heroes.

Even megastars like Lolo Jones get involved.

The fellow celebrity bobsledder captured the Jamaicans in a dance-off with Team USA and shared it via social media:

So no, perhaps this two-man bobsled team from Jamaica isn’t there to compete for a podium spot, but it sure seems to bring out the best in the people it encounters on the world stage.

And maybe that’s good enough.

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