Jamaican bobsled is back with a women's team … driving a rental

William Douglas, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Olympics

Damien King, an economist at Jamaica's University of the West Indies, added more ice water last week to Jamaica's quest for winter sport superiority, calling its Olympic bobsled participation "ridiculous."

"It does not emerge from local capacity, activity, or behaviour (not to mention geography!), and so does not REPRESENT Jamaica," King wrote in a tweet last week. "It is and will always be just tokenism."

Fenlator-Victorian endured criticism from some people in the United States after she quit the U.S. women's bobsled team in 2015 after 11 seasons to join Jamaica's effort.

The New Jersey native, who has dual citizenship, competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and finished in 11th place in a two-person bobsled with U.S. track and field star Lolo Jones.

"When I went back home to Jamaica to represent them, I got a lot of hate mail from different people for being a traitor and representing another country," she said. "I'm not representing my father's country, I'm representing my country. And to me, that's very important."

The "haterade" that Fenlator-Victorian received only crystallized her reasons for switching teams and nations.

"This is for our nation, this is for little girls and boys, this is for the black community," she said. "This is something that can change labels and racism, and for us, that's huge."

Russell said Fenlator-Victorian's addition to the Jamaica's women's bobsled program has had a huge impact, bringing brings hands-on bobsled experience that she and Segree, another convert from track and field, lacked.

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Russell said the bobsled program's men would try to explain things but the help would sometimes come off more as a "you do what I say situation."

"It was more of a one-man show, not a collective group," Russell said. "When Jazmine decided to come and be part of the program, the female group itself became far more organized. She had the patience and the time to teach us the basics. She was far more detailed."

And far more competitive. The team had been on the road since October, competing and rigorously training to minimize mistakes in Pyeongchang.

"This is just a stepping stone to where we really want to be," Fenlator-Victorian told her teammates. "Because come Pyeongchang, we going to have all our stuff together and we're going to be unstoppable."

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