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Sochi 2014: Jamaican bobsleigh team will bring the sunshine to the Winter Olympics

Jamaica qualified for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics two-man bob competition, but only just. Winston Watts and his crewman Marvin Dixon came pretty close to failing to qualify as only the top 30 crews get a chance to compete in Russia next month. With a 39th place run the chances of a repeat of the 1988 Cool Runnings success was looking slim, but as 9 of the top qualifiers were from countries that already had the maximum number of sleighs in the competition the Jamaican crew made it to the games that begin 7 February.

It’s been 12 years since Jamaica were represented in the Winter Games, and although their qualification is great news the games it’s even better news for the bookies that will no doubt attract plenty of punters. At odds of 1,000/1, they’re not likely to take home gold but they’ll entertain the crowd throughout the competition.

The team’s qualification must be a relief for Watts who ploughed £100,000 of his own money into the venture. “It means the world to me,” he said. “I could not fall asleep last night just waiting to hear the news. I had a strong feeling we would get in but you never know.”

Watts is a seasoned campaigner having been part of the 1994, 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics but he’s struggling to attract sponsors to the venture. “I just about get by financially. Beg, scrape, it’s hard. I’ve got headaches a lot of times.” The team’s bid for Olympic success isn’t backed by the Jamaica Olympic Association but according to Watts qualifying “means the world to Jamaica. We have dominated in summer sports like athletics and now we've qualified for the Winter Olympics.”

Watts and Dixon may not be serious medal contenders at the games but the will be crowd pleasers like the original Cool Runnings crew who made the 1988 Calgary Games such a memorable one.

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