Airline loses Jamaican bobsled team’s equipment, forces them to call in favors

Winston Watts, the driver for JAM-1 of Jamaica, speaks on the phone after arriving at the sliding center during a training session for the men's two-man bobsled at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Watts and his team were unable to practice because the Jamaican team equipment and luggage did not arrive in Sochi. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Late last month, the Jamaican bobsled team turned to the internet to raise the exorbitant funds it requires to get a bobsled team to the Winter Olympics. They reached their goal, but now, tragedy has struck yet again: their luggage and equipment has been lost en route to Russia.

Now, it’d be easy to make a Cool Runnings joke here, about how they’ll need to rely on their opponents’ help to compete, or how the toughest type of bobsled team to be is a Jamaican one. But I won’t—the situation is too serious, and the jokes too easy. These men, after all, spend their entire lives training for the moment that an airline has ostensibly taken away from them. 

Team Jamaica’s driver, Winston Watts, said that the team purchased equipment like blades and clothing with the money they raised—all of which are lost now.

“May it was left in New York. It was bad weather there and we missed our flight to Moscow,” he told reporters today. “What I am wearing now is what I have.” 

Luckily, the team has a backup plan. Unfortunately, it involves racing on borrowed blades. In the Cool Runnings film, John Candy borrows a sled from Team Canada so the Jamaican team can compete, a moment based on the team’s experience at the 1988 Calgary Games. History, it seems, really is doomed to repeat itself.

All that stumping and fundraising, and the guys will still have to use borrowed equipment. The steady driver and three strong runners, though, they’ve got.