Latin America & Caribbean

Olympics: Fans help fund Jamaica bobsleigh Olympic bid

Jamaican bobsleigh team Image copyright Getty Images

Jamaica's bobsleigh team has raised more than $110,000 (£67,000) in a series of online fundraisers after qualifying for the Winter Olympics.

Donations have been pouring in to crowdfunding platforms, and via dogecoin, the internet currency.

The two-man bobsleigh team will be returning to next month's Games in Sochi, Russia, after a 12-year absence.

The team had initially hoped to raise $80,000 to cover various costs including travel and equipment.

Driver Winston Watts and brakeman Marvin Dixon will represent Jamaica.

Mr Watts said he had spent around $150,000 of his own money in an attempt to ensure qualification.

He said that financial constraints had prevented them from flying to Europe to take part in the final qualifying races.


On Monday, the Jamaica Olympic Association said it would cover the teams's travel costs, and the Sochi organising committee will also provide assistance.

However, the team said it still needed money for basic equipment such as "proper jackets" and a second pair of runners for the sled.

The pair launched a funding appeal on their website, which was then picked up by the online community.

Users of Reddit were encouraged to donate to the Jamaican team in the form of dogecoins, a virtual currency with a fluctuating valuation, similar to Bitcoin, and based on the Doge meme.

Liam Butler, who runs the Dogecoin foundation, said he had been inspired by the team's plight.

"As someone who grew up in the 90s, [the 1993 Disney film] Cool Runnings was the ultimate feel-good movie about underdogs out of their element achieving their dreams," Mr Butler told the Guardian.

"We started without a concrete plan in mind. I sent a few emails out… but that was the extent of it," he said.

Lincoln Wheeler, who started the Crowdtilt campaign, said he was thrilled to have helped the team.

"It's wild to harness the power of the internet like this," he told ESPN. "Obviously the movie had some influence, but I think this also became about the idea that we, as fans, could have an opportunity to influence sports."

Jamaica first qualified for the Winter Olympics in 1988 in Calgary, an achievement later portrayed in the film Cool Runnings, and last competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Jamaica did not feature in the 2006 Turin and 2010 Vancouver Games, partly due to a lack of finance.

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