Friday 5 June, 2020

Jamaican women's bobsled team holds 18th spot in Winter Olympic debut

History-making Jamaican women's bobsled team made its long-awaited first appearance at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea and finished down the track both times in the opening heats of the two-man competition at the Olympic Sliding Centre.

The team finished their first run in 51.29 seconds and landed in 17th place, three from the bottom and then ended their second run in 51.50 seconds, which placed them 19th, one from the bottom

Those times put Jamaica in 18th place, 1.53 seconds behind leaders Germany.

American-born Jazmine Fenalator-Victorian, , who competed for USA as a push-athlete at Sochi 2014, served as the pilot, while Carrie Russell, who won a gold medal in the 4x100m relay at the World Athletics Championships in 2013,  was used as the push and brakeman. Audra Segree, who also competed on the track as a sprinter, was selected as the alternate brakeman.

Jamaica is not expected to challenge for a podium spot, but has already made history. The team represents the first-ever women's bobsled team from Jamaica at a Winter Olympics.

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

But just days before the Jamaicans were set to make their competitive debut in PyeongChang, disaster struck.

Sandra Kiriasis, their coach - who is a world, European and Olympic champion as a competitor for Germany - suddenly quit and attempted to take the sled with her, according to reports.

It had been rumored that she was reassigned from coach to track performance analyst, but the Jamaican Bobsled and Skeleton Federation told Reuters that she made the decision to leave the team.

However, an unlikely hero emerged beer maker Red Stripe tweeted to the bobsled team offering to put a new sled on their "tab."

On February 16, Red Stripe tweeted an update that the team had a new sleigh courtesy of the beer company.

In PyeongChang training runs  before competition began, the Jamaican team had a best finish of sixth.

The final two runs are Wednesday night.

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