You know, somebody could make a movie about this someday.
Jamaica’s two-man bobsled team of Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon qualified for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. It’s the first time a Jamaican bobsled team has qualified for theWinter Olympics since 2002.
The Jamaican Olympic Committee tweeted the celebratory news on Saturday:
An entire generation is familiar with the Jamaican bobsled team after Cool Runnings. The Disney movie told the somewhat fictionalized story of how the Caribbean country defied the odds to qualify in the four-man bobsled for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.
Watts has even taken to calling himself and Dixon, “Cool Runnings, the Second Generation,” per The Telegraph‘s Ian Chadband.
Qualifying for the 2014 Olympics was the easy part for Dixon and Watts. Heading into St. Moritz, they only needed to avoid disaster in order to earn their spot in Russia.
The hard part will be actually getting there.
Watts told Chadband the financial hardship the team is under at the moment:
In truth, we still don’t really know at the moment if we’d even have enough funds or sponsorship to fly to Sochi itself for the Games itself. It all depends. Our families need to be taken care of first. If there’s no funding, who knows?
But, I’m one of life’s optimists. I put my heart on the line for this. Any British companies out there interested in sponsorin’ us? Hopefully, the Jamaican Olympic Association will step in and support us now we’ve qualified.
As Evan Hilbert of CBSSports.com noted, the original plan was for Jamaica to have a regular four-man team, but that idea was scrapped after the funding problems:
Watts, who came out of retirement to give the Olympics another shot (he competed previously in ’94, ’98, and ’02), was forced to cut his four-man team in half due to budgetary restrictions.
He has, for the past two years, financed his teammates to fly from Jamaica to the United States to train. Still, without significant support, he and Dixon will not be able to compete.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell adds more detail to the team’s financial issues:
Now that the Jamaicans have officially qualified, financial benefactors may come out of the woodwork. Watts’ story is gaining a lot of traction, thus bringing much more attention to his plight. Perhaps the Jamaican Olympic Association will pony up some dough, too.
Maybe Watts and Dixon could consider Kickstarter. It helped fund the Veronica Marsmovie; why can’t it help the Jamaican bobsled team? Worst-case scenario, the bobsledders create a nice ditty to perform on the streets. A kissing booth seemed to work well, too.
This is the kind of story that tugs at the heartstrings, and should the Jamaicans make it to Russia, they’ll be one of, if not the most compelling team at the Olympics. Even putting aside the idea of the Cool Runnings redux, this is a 46-year-old athlete—Watts—trying to make that one last run at Olympic glory.
Between now and Sochi, somebody has to step up make Watts’ dream a reality.