TODAY   |  January 19, 2014

Jamaican bobsledders make first Olympics since 2002

Jamaican bobsled team has qualified for the Olympics, and not only that, but one of the members is 47 years old, making him the oldest bobsled competitor at Sochi. TODAY’s Lester Holt reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> team members.

>> winston watts and marvin dixon qualified for the 2014 olympics in sochi , the first time a jamaican bobsled team has qualified for the winter olympics since 2002 .

>> look at the time. world record !

>> reporter: it's home to some of the world's fastest men and women on two feet. while jamaica has plenty of places to run, what it doesn't have is ice, which is what makes the story of a jamaican bobsled team as improbable as it is endearing. and now after failing to qualify for the last two olympics , the jamaicans are heading back to the games.

>> no one thought that the jamaican bobsled team is still alive.

>> reporter: 47-year-old veteran and captain winston watts who came out of retirement to lead this team has for months pushed his squad uphill to qualify for sochi with a group short on experience and sponsors.

>> the thing is we're one of the most famous teams in the world, but the most poorest team ever.

>> reporter: famous because of this movie. "cool rungs" was a loose account of the bobsled team's debut with the 1988 olympics in calgary where they became the underdog darlings of the games. pat brown coached the team in calgary .

>> i was 21 years old and we were being treated like rock stars at the games. it was a lot of fun. they had so much pride to represent their country.

>> reporter: most of the current team is too young to recall the calgary games, but they identify with "cool runnings."

>> do you remember the 1988 team?

>> it was crazy, you know what i mean ? ice? we're a tropical country.

>> reporter: they make their training headquarters in the unlikely town of evanston, wyoming, not far from the olympic track in park city , utah. as they look forward to sochi , their hearts are back on the islands.

>> how much joy would it bring jamaica to see a team carrying the flag into the stadium?

>> it would be such an honor for me plus the team that i'm with there plus the president and also the whole entire country.

>> reporter: and now, the jamaican bobsledders have proven to competitors and sponsors that they are no novelty act and are in it to win.

>> we're no bunch of jokers, not because of the movie