Jamaica Olympic Association says bobsled team qualifies for Olympics

Winston Watts

Jamaica’s Olympic Association said it has qualified a two-man bobsled for Sochi, which would mark the island nation’s first Winter Olympics bobsled berth since the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

The International Bobsled Federation (FIBT) said it emailed National Olympic Committees that earned Olympic berths on Monday. The Jamaica Olympic Association said it received an email from FIBT saying that it had earned an Olympic two-man bobsled berth.

The sled is set to be driven by Winston Watts, 47, who competed in bobsled under the name Winston Watt at the 1994, 1998 and 2002 Olympics.

Watts came out of retirement in 2010 for one more shot at the Olympics.

“I’m very excited,” Watts said in a phone interview last week. “I knew if I got back in the sport, get a good brakeman and have the funding, we can still create history. That’s one of the things why I decided to come back.”

He attributed the name change to a previous passport mishap. Watts said last week his push athlete will be either Marvin Dixon or Wayne Blackwood, who would be first-time Olympians.

OlympicTalk profiled Watts’ unlikely path back to the Winter Olympics in August.

How did Watts qualify for Sochi? By competing exclusively in the lower-level North American Cup across three tracks this season — Calgary, Alberta; Park City, Utah; and Lake Placid, N.Y., and achieving his two best results in his final events two weeks ago (fifth and seventh).

A complicated ranking system sorted out after results in a World Cup race in Igls, Austria, on Saturday. Watts would have been one of the final sleds to get into the Olympics, and it was unclear whether he had qualified based on FIBT criteria.

Later Saturday, the Sochi 2014 Twitter account tweeted that Jamaica had qualified an Olympic two-man bobsled. The news spread, and then the tweet was deleted. Sochi organizers do not determine which bobsleds make up the Olympic field. FIBT does, and the organization said Friday it would not announce the Olympic field until Monday.

Watts said Saturday he’s trying to raise as much as $80,000 to get to Sochi, according to The Associated Press. Watts said earlier last week that regardless of finances, he expects to be able to make it to Sochi.

Jamaica bobsled gained widespread American fame with the 1993 Disney film “Cool Runnings,” which depicted the first Jamaican Olympic Bobsled Team from the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

In 1994, Watts and the four-man bobsled team beat both U.S. sleds and finished 14th in Lillehammer, Norway.

Watts now resides in Utah, though he spent the better part of last week staying at a friend’s house near John F. Kennedy Airport in New York because he said he could not afford an airplane ticket to Salt Lake City.

U.S. bobsledder competed for Liberia at 2000 Summer Olympics

Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon

Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill


BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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