New Sleds for Bobsleigh Teams

Photo: Mark Bell Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange (second left), looks on as Acting President of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation, Nelson ‘Chris’ Stokes (left), and Team Leader for the Shitamachi Bobsleigh Project, Junichi Hosogai (right), exchange copies of an agreement both parties signed for the provision of sleds for Jamaica’s male and female bobsleigh teams. Also looking on is Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Masanori Nakano. The signing took place during a ceremony at the St. Andrew residence of Ambassador Nakano on Tuesday (July 5). Under the agreement, a group of Japanese manufacturers, Shitamachi Bobsleigh, are donating three new sleds to Jamaica’s male and female bobsleigh teams.

Story Highlights

  • By the end of December this year, Jamaica’s male and female bobsleigh teams will have in their possession three new sleds which Japanese manufacturers have donated.
  • “With Japanese craftsmanship and technology, and the Jamaica Bobsleigh brand, it will be ‘cool runnings’ every time the Jamaica Shitamachi sled touches ice... we are going to be burning on the ice,” the Minister said.
  • Team Leader for the Shitamachi Bobsleigh Project, Junichi Hosogai, noted that the team of about 100 small manufacturers started producing sleds four years ago, “and since then, we have been trying to expose our technological edge to the world”.

By the end of December this year, Jamaica’s male and female bobsleigh teams will have in their possession three new sleds which Japanese manufacturers have donated.

The equipment is expected to greatly boost the teams’ chances of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

A formal agreement for the provision of the sleds was signed between the manufacturers, Shitamachi Bobsleigh, and the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation during a ceremony at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Masanori Nakano, on July 5.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, who was in attendance, expressed gratitude for the “superbly crafted” Shitamachi bobsleighs, while lamenting that the Jamaica bobsleigh team has become accustomed to using second-hand equipment, which were either “borrowed, rented or begged”.

“They are accustomed to barely making it because of the lack of resources and funding and they have still astonished the world. So, can you imagine when they get their own brand-new equipment?” she said.

“With Japanese craftsmanship and technology, and the Jamaica Bobsleigh brand, it will be ‘cool runnings’ every time the Jamaica Shitamachi sled touches ice… we are going to be burning on the ice,” the Minister said.

She noted that since diplomatic relations began between Japan and Jamaica 52 years ago, both countries have benefited from excellent relations in cooperation, friendship and trade.

She thanked the Japanese Ambassador and the Shitamachi Bobsleigh Project team for “the vision that they have shown to extend the hand of friendship to the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation”.

In his remarks, Ambassador Nakano noted that this  “historic signing” which brought together the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation and the Shitamachi Bobsleigh Project team “is a first step on their journey together towards making a reality Jamaica’s goal of winning medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics”.

“I am quite confident that they will achieve it with the combination of the renowned physical ability of Jamaican bobsleighers and the Shitamachi Bobsleigh project team’s passion for making the best bobsleighs using their world-class technology,” he said.

Team Leader for the Shitamachi Bobsleigh Project, Junichi Hosogai, noted that the team of about 100 small manufacturers started producing sleds four years ago, “and since then, we have been trying to expose our technological edge to the world”.

“We are proud of these new sleds (which) are the best and fastest we have ever made,” he said.

President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Michael Fennel,  and Acting President of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation, Nelson ‘Chris’ Stokes, along with pilot of the male bobsleigh team, Joel Alexander, also welcomed the donation.

The Jamaican Bobsleigh team made its Olympic debut at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Canada, which inspired the 1993 movie ‘Cool Runnings’.

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