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Jamaica women qualify for Olympic bobsleigh

HISTORIC: Jamaica’s women bobsledders (Photo credit: The Associated Press/All rights reserved

JAMAICA HAVE qualified for the Olympic women’s bobsled team for the first time, earning the last quota spot in the Pyeongchang field by a slim margin over Romania. This season, Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian (a 2014 US Olympian) drove the first Jamaican women’s sled in World Cup competition since 2001.

She and brakewoman Carrie Russell debuted in seventh place in December, which put them into an Olympic qualifying position. Russell won a 2013 world title in track and field as part of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team.

Fenlator-Victorian and Russell competed in a sled named ‘Mr. Cool Bolt’ after the movie ‘Cool Runnings’ and Usain Bolt, according to International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation announcers.

Eleven Jamaicans have competed at the Winter Olympics — all men. All bobsledders, too, save for ski cross racer Errol Kerr in 2010, according to Olympic historians. Fenlator-Victorian, 32, announced her plan to switch representation to Jamaica (where her father is from) in 2015. The year before, she finished 11th in her Olympic debut in Sochi with two-time Olympic track and field athlete Lolo Jones.

Jamaica just missed qualifying a two-man bobsled outright for Pyeongchang. It is first alternate if a qualified nation returns a quota spot. Chris Stokes, president of the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skel- eton Federation, left, told The Gleaner: “Their qualification
was miraculous, as a poor start left them with a lot of work to do. But through proper planning and organisation, they regrouped to realise their dream.

“They had a difficult time in Germany (first race this year). But we made adjustments and came back with a strong performance in St Moritz, which set us up. But our first four races were not so good. Had we started the season like we finished it, we would be in a stronger position. But the first six races, we did not get the results.”

He added: “We made changes in time so the races in Winterberg, Igls, Altenberg and St Moritz rescued the qualification campaign. So despite the poor start, we got it together, came back strong, and qualified.

“But based on the first six races, we shouldn’t have qualified. But we reorganised and put ourselves in a very strong position and got in at the wire.” He concluded: “So they are very happy. This is a very elite level, and they have done exceptionally well. To be there, we had to beat the best.

“This is the 30th anniversary of the first team to qualify in 1988, and we are glad to have a women’s team qualify, and we expect them to do well.”

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