Olympic Flashback: 1988 Jamaican Bobsled team

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The 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Canada, were highlighted in part on the bobsled track — just not who you would expect.

Four sprinters from Jamaica, who had never competed at the Winter Olympics before — and only started competing in the event months before the Olympics — stole the show in the event. The team, while not finishing remarkably well, is one of the better remembered in Winter Olympic history, even inspiring the 1993 Disney movie Cool Runnings. 

Since their start, Jamaica has fielded a team in multiple Winter Olympics since its debut in 1988. At the 2018 games in PyeongChang, South Korea, the country will field its first ever women’s bobsled team, attempting to bring home the island nation’s first medal in the event.

Here’s a look back on the 1988 team:

<p>George Fitch, currently the mayor of the small northern Virginia town of Warrenton, helped found the first bobsled team from Jamaica when he served as the Commercial Attache at the American embassy in Kingston, Jamaica in the 1980s. He learned of sprinters preparing for the upcoming summer olympics, and thought they would be perfect to compete in the bobsled at the Calgary Olympics — something a team from Jamaica has never done before. Fitch funded the team himself, and helped them throughout the qualifying process for the 1988 games. (Getty Images) </p>
1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team

George Fitch, currently the mayor of the small northern Virginia town of Warrenton, helped found the first bobsled team from Jamaica when he served as the Commercial Attache at the American embassy in Kingston, Jamaica in the 1980s. He learned of sprinters preparing for the upcoming summer olympics, and thought they would be perfect to compete in the bobsled at the Calgary Olympics — something a team from Jamaica has never done before. Fitch funded the team himself, and helped them throughout the qualifying process for the 1988 games. (Getty Images)

<p>Jamaica’s Frederick Powell speaks during a press conference as his teammates Michael White and Allen Caswell listen on the eve of the opening of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. (Getty Images) </p>
1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team

Jamaica’s Frederick Powell speaks during a press conference as his teammates Michael White and Allen Caswell listen on the eve of the opening of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. (Getty Images)

<p>Dudley Stokes and Michael White raced in the two-man bobsled competition during the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. The two man race was initially all that the Jamaicans were attempting to compete in. (Getty Images) </p>
1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team

Dudley Stokes and Michael White raced in the two-man bobsled competition during the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. The two man race was initially all that the Jamaicans were attempting to compete in. (Getty Images)

<p>Jamaican pilot Dudley Stokes jumps in as his three teammates push off at the start of the second run of the Olympic four-man bobsled event at the Calgary Olympics in 1988. (Getty Images) </p>
1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team

Jamaican pilot Dudley Stokes jumps in as his three teammates push off at the start of the second run of the Olympic four-man bobsled event at the Calgary Olympics in 1988. (Getty Images)

<p>The four-man competition was never something the Jamaicans had planned to do. However after their success in the two-man competition, the team decided to give it a shot. Fitch quickly raised money by selling popular “Jamaican Bobsled t-shirts” and purchased a four-man sled. (Getty Images) </p>
1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team

The four-man competition was never something the Jamaicans had planned to do. However after their success in the two-man competition, the team decided to give it a shot. Fitch quickly raised money by selling popular “Jamaican Bobsled t-shirts” and purchased a four-man sled. (Getty Images)

<p>After a great start to their third run in the four-man race, the Jamaicans crashed after coming around the eighth corner on the track and had to push the sled the rest of the way. (Getty Images) </p>
1988 Jamaican Bobsled

After a great start to their third run in the four-man race, the Jamaicans crashed after coming around the eighth corner on the track and had to push the sled the rest of the way. (Getty Images)

<p>Jamaica returned to the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, the 1994 Olympics Lillehammer, Norway, and the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. After failing to qualify for several years, Jamaica made its return at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The first women’s team from Jamaica will make its debut at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.<br>(Getty Images) </p>
1988 Jamaican Bobsled

Jamaica returned to the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, the 1994 Olympics Lillehammer, Norway, and the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. After failing to qualify for several years, Jamaica made its return at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The first women’s team from Jamaica will make its debut at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
(Getty Images)

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