Retired Jamaican Olympic Bobsledder Devon Harris Reflects on Inspiration for Jamaican Bobsledders

Retired Jamaican Olympic Bobsledder Devon Harris
Devon Harris

by Howard Campbell

[KINGSTON, Jamaica]  – A member of Jamaica’s groundbreaking 1988 bobsled team credits their feats at the Calgary Winter Olympics that year, for the country’s enduring popularity in the sport.

Devon Harris was part of the five-man team who were a sensation in Canada 34 years ago. Their determination inspired the 1993 hit movie, Cool Runnings, which starred John Candy and Leon.

“We inspired generations of people to go pursue their dreams. I think that’s why the team remains so popular,” said Harris. “We gave the people the permission to go chase their impossible dreams.”

Fans in Calgary were amazed that a team from tropical Jamaica qualified for the Winter Olympics with little financial resources and even less preparation under their belts.

Harris, team-mates Dudley Stokes, Chris Stokes, Michael White and Freddy Powell, competed in the four-man bobsled and two-man bobsleigh events.

Jamaica’s bobsledders have since appeared at multiple Winter Olympics.

2022 Winter Olympics

There are three bobsled teams representing Jamaica at the current Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. They compete in the four and two-man events as well as the women’s monobob.

Harris, a motivational speaker who lives in New York, wrote the 2010 autobiography, Keep on Pushing: Hot Lessons From Cool Runnings, about his 1988 experience.

For all their achievements, he believes it is time Jamaica’s bobsled team moves on from being a novelty act.

“In 1988, we started five months before the Olympic Games knowing absolutely nothing about the sport. That was a steep learning curve but it’s been over 30 years,” he stated. “We have had all these years of knowledge and experience to create a team. My term is that we tried to back into the Olympics every four years as opposed to solidly qualifying for the Olympic Games,” Harris added. “It’s very disappointing to see the state of our program after all these years.”



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