Tuesday 19 March, 2019

Jamaican bobsleigh team faces drama at Winter Olympics as coach quits

History-making Jamaica's women bobsleigh team is without a coach a few days before the start of its competition at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (JBSF) announced that coach Sandra Kiriasis has quit.

A statement the JBSF said that “driving coach Sandra Kiriasis has elected not to continue her position with Jamaica Bobsleigh. We are deeply disappointed in her decision to leave the programme. We thank her for her invaluable contribution to JBSF and contributing to the success of Jamaica’s first female bobsled Olympic appearance.”

However, following that statement, it has been reported that a senior member of Jamaica Bobsleigh said that “the lady was a hugely destructive force on the team. Now that she is off the team synergy is much better, tension is down and athletes are now able to focus in a much healthier environment.

“We have our high performance director, Jo Manning, and coach, Dudley Stokes, who have been with the team all season and who have been the ones driving performance, so frankly, things have only improved with her departure.

“If you come on the team you have to be a team player. There are no gods and goddesses here.”

The BBC reported that the departure of Kiriasis, who it said owns the sled in which the Jamaicans are planning to compete, came after she was asked to change her role.

“I have never known such disappointment in this sport in my life,” Kiriasis, a world, European and Olympic champion as a competitor for Germany, was reported as saying.

“The athletes have told me they don’t understand why this has happened as they have no problem with me and we have a good relationship," Kiriasis said.

Jamaica's women bobsleigh team historic qualification to the Winter Olympics came 30 years after the men bobsleigh team made its first historic appearance at a Winter Olympics (1988 in Calgary), which inspired the film Cool Runnings.

Jamaica will be led in PyeongChang  by Jazmine Fenlator, who competed for USA as a push-athlete at Sochi 2014.

American-born Fenlator switched to join her father's native Jamaica in 2015.

Fenlator is joined by brakewoman Carrie Russell, who won a gold medal in the 4x100m relay at the World Athletics Championships in 2013 and Audra Segree, who also competed on the track as a sprinter.

Practice for the  bobsleigh teams is on Saturday with the opening heats on Tuesday.

 

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