For the first time since making their debut at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada, the Jamaica bobsleigh team will not be present at an Olympic Games.
This was confirmed after the two-man team of Winston Watt and Wayne Blackwood finished fourth in the Americas Challenge Cup in Konigssee, Germany, on January 19.
The top two finishers, Australia and New Zealand, advanced to the Olympic Games, though being from the Oceana region both countries have the option under FIBT rules to choose the region under which they attempt to qualify.
According to Stokes, “this is a massive disappointment for all involved in the programme. It is especially bitter for the athletes who have sacrificed so much over the past few years.”
The Jamaicans burst onto the scene at the Calgary Olympics with a performance immortalised in the Hollywood blockbuster movie ‘Cool Runnings’.
Six years later in Lillehammer, they delivered the best performance of a non-traditional team to date, finishing 14th overall and ahead of all American competitors.
More recently, difficulties with funding have resulted in limited training and competition, ultimately affecting their performance.
Ironically, the only Jamaican who may now be in Torino is Lascelles Brown, who defected from the Jamaican programme to Canada in 2004 and is likely to be among the medals.
The federation will now focus its efforts on rebuilding the team with the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, as the target.