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Jamaicans lose race equipments

Afp
Friday, February 07, 2014

SOCHI, Russia - Jamaica's bobsleigh team have suffered a serious Olympics setback after their luggage and equipment went missing but insist they will still compete even if they have to beg gear from rival nations.

"We had bad weather going into New York JFK and had to go to Philadelphia first," Jamaican team pilot Winston Watts said.

"We flew Tuesday almost all day long but after we came here we found out that our luggage got left back there. We've got nothing right now with us. Helmets, spikes, lycra suites, everything is somewhere between JFK and Sochi."

Despite the setback, Watts, who inspected the daunting course at the Sanki sliding centre on Wednesday, insisted his team will still make it to the first training session on Thursday — even if they have to borrow equipment.

"I'm looking around and trying to get some helmets and stuff like that. Tomorrow (Thursday) is an official training session for people who've never been down this ice," he said.

"We'll make it tomorrow, I guarantee that. It's still a learning process and we have a lot more to learn. I've walked around the course today learning the curves. But when you're inside the bob there's a completely different feeling."

Jamaica's two-man team, who have qualified for the Winter Games after a 12-year absence, are hoping to represent their country with the same vigour and enthusiasm shown by their 1998 Nagano counterparts, who inspired the Hollywood movie "Cool Runnings".

"We're definitely not the Games favourites but we came here to represent our country with pride," said Watts, who competed in Japan and again in Salt Lake City in 2002.

"With the help of our friends, sponsors and Jamaica's Olympic Association we've raised around $US148,000 for travel expenses and preparations for the Games and are set to spend it wisely."

Watts added that their qualification for the Olympics even received the full support of world sprint superstar Usain Bolt.

"Everybody loves and supports us there. We've talked once to Usain (Bolt) and he also congratulated us on the Olympic qualification and wished us good luck at the Games."