Real Life Cool Runnings: Jamaican Bobsled Team Crowdfunds Its Way to Sochi Olympics.

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 21 2014 7:26 PM

Real Life Cool Runnings: Jamaican Bobsled Team Crowdfunds Its Way to Sochi Olympics.

1215504-22-feb-1988-d-stokes-and-m-white-in-action-for-jamaica-i
The two-man Jamaican team competing at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

22 FEB 1988: D STOKES (DRIVER

In a case of life imitating art-that-was-loosely-based-on-life, the Jamaican bobsled team over the weekend qualified for the Olympics, but didn’t have the cash to compete. If that sounds familiar, perhaps you’re remembering the 1993 film Cool Runnings that pits the underdog and underfunded Caribbean nation’s bobsled team against the rest of the snow-receiving world at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

Despite obvious hurdles Jamaica’s bobsled teams managed to qualify for the Olympics four more times following its debut in Calgary. But, after a 12-year dry spell, over the weekend a two-man team qualified to compete in Sochi. There was only one problem: they were broke. On Saturday, Winston Watts, driver of the Jamaican sled told the Associated Press that they needed some $80,000 to make it to the Olympics. "Right now," Watts said, "we're at zero."

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Instead of turning to John Candy for help, the team turned to the Internet. As one does these days, they hit all the crowdfunding hotspots looking for help. A combination of funding on Crowdtilt, Indiegogo, and startup cryptocurrency Dogecoin, netted the team a cool $200,000 in just days. While the team was busy raising funds, the Jamaica Olympic Association and Sochi Olympic Organizing Committee stepped up to cover the team’s travel expenses to the Olympics. That allows the team to use the new funds to train and upgrade their equipment ahead of the games. “On behalf of the team we are very happy with the contributions, donations that companies and fans out there contributed to us,” Watts told NBCSports. “This helps us to exceed and get the equipment that we really need over in Sochi so that we can be more competitive along with the rest of the world.”

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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