Meet the first women's Jamaican bobsled team [Video]
The tale of the Jamaica bobsled team who triumphed against the odds with the team going to Austria to take part in a World Cup race to meet. Jazmine Fenlator is part of the first women's Jamaican bobsled team at the Winter Olympics. She speaks to Rachel Martin about what this. When I was 12 years old, I felt like I was on top of the world. I'd just made the cheerleading squad. I'd been inducted into the National Junior Honor Society.
He said, 'Like a helicopter pilot? So there you had the three principal members of the Jamaica bobsled team. To be honest when this came up I was thinking that this is ridiculous. But there I am. Then just 10 days before the start of the Games, drama.
The IOC would not let Jamaica compete. The trip was back on. They informed Fitch they wanted to try the four-man. However Fitch was quick to stop them in their tracks. Two, I'm totally out of money and nobody's going to loan us a sled. And three, I only count three guys sitting around in this room here.
Freddie had gone "walkabout" in Fitch's words, while Caswell was also ruled out.
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I think his ego more than anything. They proved so popular that they spawned dozens of knockoffs. Dudley then told Fitch his brother Chris Stokes was down in Moscow, Idaho, training on a track scholarship for the University of Idaho. Fitch was able to convince a Calgary Olympic official to give Chris accreditation, he then flew in, got in the sled and the team had four practice runs under their belts before the start of the four-man.
But the Olympic race was the very first time we were racing a four-man sled," says Harris. The t-shirts may have carried the slogan 'Hottest Thing On Ice', but the Jamaicans certainly didn't live up to that monicker in the first two heats. However, it all came together in the third. Word had already hit the streets that the Jamaicans were trying the four, which brought a record crowd of nearly 40, at the track, dwarfing the 5, you could usually expect.
A degree turn greeted them going into corner nine. They hit the wall again. The sled worked its way through the rest of the curves and finally came to a rest at the bottom. How do I explain it to their families? And that really endeared them to the fans. And to me that was embarrassing. We all felt that way; that we had failed our country.Ellen Meets the Amazing Nigerian Bobsled Team
That was the toughest part of the crash. That was my seventh crash of the season," he laughs.
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The four started pushing the sled over the line. So I shook his hand and after that I had to shake every other hand. Everybody wanted to shake my hand. People started to wave, and cheer, and say 'we love you'. It made us feel a little better. Not a whole lot better. So I had no editorial control over it. They wrote what they wanted to write. About one percent is true.
She speaks to Rachel Martin about what this moment means for women and for bringing diversity to the sport. Among those taking part is the first-ever women's Jamaican bobsled team at the games. They follow in the tracks of the first Jamaican men's bobsled team who competed at the Calgary Games 30 years ago, inspiring a Hollywood movie. As Sanka Coffie Feel the rhythm. And she says that while the men's team did not win any medals, they did break down barriers.
Jamaica's First Women's Bobsled Team
Inif you looked at the starting line, you wouldn't find many minorities whatsoever. It was a very European, white-dominated sport. It also was dominated by people with money. If you can get the funding or if you knew people with money, you had the best equipment and could travel and afford to tour. Another stereotype is - if you've never seen snow before or you've never been around snow, how can you bobsleigh? Laughter And I think a lot of those cultural differences is what held back quite a few nations from kind of exploring the option.
So how did you get into bobsleigh? Great story - I was a track and field athlete at Rider University. It's a small Division 1 school in New Jersey. And so my head coach, Rob Pasquariello at the time, was introduced to the idea of bobsleigh by a colleague of his who thought that I could transition a lot of my skill sets and even grow further to maximize my potential as an athlete after college.
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He knew of me aspiring to go to the Olympics and my goal was in track and field, but he presented this idea to me. We laughed about it.
I did some research. He put an athletic resume to the national team. It was the U. And a couple of months later, they called me up for a tryout. And 11 seasons later, still going strong. This year, you're deciding, though, to compete with Jamaica.
What was that decision like?