Howard Siler

Howard Siler, first Jamaica Bobsled coach, passes away

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Howard Siler, the coach of the first Jamaican Olympic Bobsled Team, died at age 69 last Tuesday in Clermont, Fla., according to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.

Siler competed as a U.S. bobsledder at the 1972 and 1980 Olympics with a top finish of fifth.

He would be the inspiration for John Candy‘s role in the Disney movie “Cool Runnings” about the Jamaican Bobsled Team at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

Siler remembered the film in an interview with the Calgary Sun last year, the 25-year anniversary of those Winter Games.

“It was a good movie, and there were a couple of things that were true, and a lot that wasn’t,” he told the newspaper. “First of all, I’d never won two gold medals, and second, I wasn’t an alcoholic in Jamaica.

“There was a part in the movie where we get off the plane and go out the front door, and they go right back into the terminal to put more clothes on. Well that was the true part of the movie — the chinook wasn’t there that day, and it was cold.”

Siler also told the story of the first time the Jamaican bobsledders stepped on a rink in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“I was there the very first time they walked on ice — we put them on a hockey rink without bobsled shoes, so they were slipping and sliding and having a good time,” he said.

“Then we put some bobsled shoes on, and showed them the difference.”

Jamaica Bobsled returned to the spotlight last winter for the first time since 2002, barely qualifying for the Sochi Olympics and taking 29th out of 29 finishers in the two-man event.

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President Obama to female Olympians: ‘Y’all crushed it’ (video)

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President Barack Obama hosted the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams at the White House on Thursday.

Obama opened his speech by saying that he had planned on doing a floor routine with Simone Biles, before ultimately deciding that the room was too crowded. First Lady Michelle Obama interjected to remind the crowd that her husband “can’t touch his toes.”

The President then singled out the athletic accomplishments of Olympians including Biles, Michelle Carter, Simone Manuel, Claressa Shields, Kristin Armstrong, Kim Rhode, Allyson Felix, Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, Kristi Castlin, Katie Ledecky, Michael Phelps and the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

He also recognized: Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, Sam Kendricks, the U.S. Army reservist who put down his pole and stood at attention when the national anthem started playing, Will Claye, who proposed to U.S. hurdler Queen Harrison after winning an Olympic silver medal, and Abbey D’Agostino, who helped an opponent to her feet after a crash.

“That is exactly what the Olympic spirit and the American spirit should be all about,” Obama said about the sportsmanship of D’Agostino.

The President was particularly enthusiastic about the performance of the female athletes.

“2016 belonged to America’s women Olympians,” Obama said. “Y’all crushed it.”

Watch Obama’s full speech here.

After Obama’s speech, Biles presented him with a surfboard autographed by the Olympians in attendance.

“I’m going to have a lot of time to surf next year,” Obama said.

MORE: Photos of Team USA at the White House

Photos: Team USA at the White House

Twitter: @TeamUSA
Twitter: @TeamUSA
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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams at the White House on Thursday.

Below are some of the best photos of Team USA from inside the White House: