WHEN you say the word bobsleigh, most people in Trinidad and Tobago will think about the popular 1993 movie Cool Runnings which highlighted Jamaica’s journey to the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Trinidad and Tobago has been represented in the sport at the Winter Olympics in the past, but after a 20-year hiatus Trinidad and Tobago is in contention of qualifying for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
TT has been competing in the North American Cup tour to seal a place at the Olympics, which will be held from February 4-20.
TT’s best seven races out of eight in recent months will count towards their Olympic qualification. The team must wait until the European Cup and the World Cup end to confirm their qualification for the Olympic Games.
Driver Axel Brown said TT’s chances “look good.”
Brown explained that TT must stay ahead of countries such as Italy, Croatia, Israel and Jamaica to qualify. “We are currently comfortably ahead (of them), but it is elite sport (and) anything could happen.”
On January 16, TT will know if they have earned a place at the Winter Olympics.
The TT bobsleigh team includes a two-man team and a four-man team with the two-man team eyeing Olympic qualification.
The team comprises TT Summer Olympic hurdler Mikel Thomas, track and field sprinter Andre Marcano, Brown and the John brothers Shomari and Shakeel. Tom Harris is the coach of the team.
“I understand that a lot of people were not aware (TT had a bobsleigh team), but it only happened realistically three months before the start of the season so this has only existed in a tangible form since July,” Brown said.
Brown said they tried to put a TT team together in 2020, but because of the covid19 pandemic, it did not develop.
Brown, born to a TT mother and a British father, is elated that a TT team has been created. His mother is from Pointe-a-Pierre.
Brown is overwhelmed by the response from the TT public. “It feels great (to form this team). I am really excited over not only what we have been able to do on the ice, but also the reception that it’s had. It’s been incredible.”
The TT Olympic Committee is supporting the TT bobsleigh team.
Brown, who has been involved in the sport for the past decade, represented Great Britain in the past.
“To be doing what I am doing still, but having such a warm welcome and such an excited kind of fan base is honestly so validating and lovely…it is exciting that now all of a sudden the TT population is kind of embracing us and what we are able to do. That’s again, so nice.”
Brown is hoping TT bobsleigh continues to thrive beyond this squad. “Going forward into the next four years…hopefully, it is not just me (and my team), hopefully, there are other TT teams that are inspired by what we are doing, but I think we certainly have the athletic pool from which to choose great athletes from but also the four that we’ve got at the moment are doing incredibly well and I am really excited to see what they can do.”
Brown believes in his squad.
“I always knew conceptually the athletic ability that exists in TT (with) obviously a deep history of track and field athletes…we’ve got four really solid athletes now. I am excited about how everyone is progressing. I think we can do something really special.
“My athletic profile matches really well in bobsleigh terms with fast, sprinter types. I am more of a short, burst power so someone that could then add leg speed to that is really good.”