Female Jamaican Bobsled Team Prepares for Olympics, 30 Years After Men’s Debut

Jamaica Womens Team
From Left to Right: Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, Carrie Russell and Audra Segree. Getty

As the Olympic torch glows in Pyeongchang, the Jamaican bobsled team will return to the storied competition, 30 years after making their first appearance on the scene. But this year, it will be the ladies who step on the ice for their country. 

Current competitor Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian spoke with InsideEdition.com about being on the first female team for Jamaica.

“Growing up, my dream was to go to the Olympics and compete with the best of the best in the world on the biggest stage of competition in the world,” she said.

It comes three decades after the men made history at the 1988 Games in Calgary, Canada.

“It is a long time coming,” Chairman of the Jamaican Bobsled Federation and pioneering Jamaican bobsledder Devon Harris told InsideEdition.com. “It is fitting that 30 years after our debut we can make history again.”

Fenlator-Victorian added, “Thirty years later, to now have the first women’s team for Jamaica in the Winter Olympics, is magical. This is possible because of the original team and what they kickstarted 30 years ago and never gave up."

The 32-year-old was born in New Jersey and got into bobsledding while she was in college. She competed for Team USA from 2007 to 2015, even going to the 2014 Sochi Games where Team USA finished 11th.

But she decided to start competing for Jamaica to represent her father’s roots in the island nation.

Following intense training, she and the rest of the Jamaican bobsled team qualified in January and booked their ticket to South Korea.

“My initial reaction was actually tears of joy and almost disbelief,” she said. “You believe in yourself, your plan and your process so much through it all to get you through, but at that moment it was actually really that we accomplished the unthinkable and impossible, I had no words.”

There will be 20 countries competing to win when bobsledding kicks off Feb. 15.

For Fenlator-Victorian, it is a gratifying to know that she and her squad have already made Olympic history before even hitting the ice.

“This is an absolutely amazing feeling. To be honest this has been something I have wanted to do and accomplish for a very long time,” she said. “I am filled with joy to know that a barrier has been knocked down for future generations to come and can’t wait to see what these young people do after me!”

The men’s team was immortalized in the 1993 film, Cool Runnings, which was loosely based on their story. Fenlator-Victorian says she grew up watching the film and it had an impact on her because, like many of her generation, it was her first introduction to the sport.

“I watched the film soon as it came out, had it on VHS and was a huge fan of it,” she said. “The story is not a documentary but it does embody the chief principles of the Jamaica Bobsleigh legacy of resilience, pride, and Jamaican culture in a way that internationals can have a good laugh [at] but also be able to have some take always of life’s lessons."

She and her teammates even quote the film on social media.

 

View this post on Instagram

Wow when Leon Robinson, the lead actor also know as Derice in the movie "Cool Runnings" gives you a shout and congrats all the way from West Africa! Completely freaking out. Amazing! Thanks @wwwjustleon we are so appreciative for your personal message, support and cheers! #bugup #welikklebutwetallawah 🇯🇲😎🥇 . . . #repost from @jambobsled Congratulations to the 1st Women's Bobsled Team from Jamaica; we are so excited and have Great Expectations; it's the final countdown 24 Days to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. #JamaicaBobsledTeam30thAnniversary #DevonHarris #NChrisStokes #MichaelWhite #DudleyStokes #WinterOlympics1988Calgary #CoolRunnings25thAnniversary #WinterOlympics2018Pyeongchang #CarrieRussell #JazmineFenlatorVictorian #AudraSegree

A post shared by Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian OLY (@jazminefenlator) on

Despite Jamaica being an island in the Caribbean, their winter Olympic teams still find ways to practice. Since joining the Jamaican team, Fenlator-Victorian splits her time between America and the island nation. She says during the off-season of March through August, the team does physical training and during the winter they travel to where there are bobsled tracks in places like Whistler and Calgary, Canada; Lake Placid in upstate New York, as well as Park City, Utah.

While the Jamaican men failed to qualify for the 2018 Games, Harris says it will happen again one day, and when it does, it will be a dream come true.

Fenlator-Victorian echoes that sentiment.

“I would love for Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation to have all disciplines represented at the Winter Olympic Games,” she said. “Having a whole fleet across all disciplines would should the growth of our federation, the expansion of diversity of sport in Jamaica and globally, as well as be another historic marker for us.”

If you would like to sponsor or donate to the Jamaican Bobsled Federation, click here.

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