Tag Archives: athletes

Jamaica’s bobsleigh team in the (cool) runnings to get to the Games

20 Jan

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Jamaica‘s motto is ‘out of many, one people‘ and it’s never rang truer than this week. The lush Caribbean island has qualified for the two-man bobsleigh event at next month’s Sochi Winter Olympics.

That’s right – Cool Runnings is becoming a reality (again). But one thing almost stood in Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon’s way – money. The funding was so tight they had to dip into their own pockets and even watched the final qualifying round from home with bated breath to see it they’d made it through to the next round.

But, once again, Twitter has proved itself as the key driver for crowd-sourcing success. @JamaicaOlympics backed its athletes by drawing attention to a unique crowd-funding initiative on the micro-blogging site moments after the pair qualified. And, although each tweet didn’t generate mass re-tweets or favourites, they’re being seen by the right people.

Most of those people used internet currency sensation Dogecoin to generate the much-needed cash – and in doing so it’s boosted the value of the crypto currency. So I predict we’ll be hearing more about it, and it’s rivals, in the coming months.

The great news is that tonight it was revealed that, thanks to a blend of individual and corporate doners, the team raised $25,000.

This flurry of national PR has meant that Watts and Dixon have dominated news articles as well as the sports pages – including The Guardian, Metro and the New York Times to name a few. And hopefully it’ll encourage the world to find the remaining $15,000 to get Jamaica to the Games.

The team’s fundraising success is testament to @JamaicaOlympics upping its game, while the sporting world was asking questions about the island’s novelty team. It’s gone from tweeting once a day to every hour; re-tweeting key stakeholders; and increasing its level of call to actions. Accompanied by a thriving website, team blog and Facebook page – Jamaica’s got the full social media package.

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The IOC is wrestling to drop this Olympic sport

15 Feb

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It’s been six months since the end of the London 2012 Olympic Games but the international sporting event is still generating plenty of coverage this week:

Leading the pack is South African Paralympic gold medallist and double amputee Oscar Pistorius who’s recently denied murder after his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was found dead at his home.

Secondly, ‘poster girl for London 2012’ Jessica Ennis has topped a poll, alongside the Queen, as one of the country’s most inspirational women.

Lastly, the International Olympic Commission (IOC) is facing criticism after it announced it wanted to drop wrestling as an Olympic sport – an event that dates back to the ancient Greek games and has been part of the modern programme since 1896.

There’s still a chance it could stay – if the IOC officially ratifies it at a meeting in September – but at the moment it’s competing against six other sports, such as baseball and squash, for one spot in the 2020 programme.

Of all the recent news the latter bothers me most. Why? Because those that have been with Prime Time from the beginning will remember that when I was a GamesMaker I helped to oversee the wrestling at the ExCeL centre.

The Olympic Games has such a unique history that it’s a privilege for countries to host this amazing centre stage to showcase talented athletes. (You only have to watch a snippet of Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony to see how much effort we put in.) With this in mind, I appreciate that to keep the Olympics current, occasionally it has to redevelop itself. And I’m all eyes and eyes for modernisation, but when elements of the event’s history and heritage are at stake then that’s a different matter.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a closet member of FILA – the wrestling federation. Until last August I’d never even seen a Greco-Roman match, but the fact that the IOC has deemed it a good enough sport, to recognise and reward athletes for demonstrating their skills and strength, for more than a century must worth something.

If it’s about ticket sales, the IOC should be supporting FILA with advice to raise the sport’s profile. After all, more athletes and more fans would benefit both parties. But, instead the committee bull-dozed ahead without talking to anyone. So, not only does the IOC look rash but also now appears defensive by saying:

“We knew even before the decision was taken whatever sport would not be included in the core programme would lead to criticism from the supporters of that sport.”

The backlash against the IOC has spread quickly and I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels surprised. ESPN’s Jim Caple highlights a range of other sports that could’ve been given the chopper which would’ve caused less controversy. (Trampolining anyone?)

Wrestling is an ancient sport. I mean that in the historical sense, not old.
It’ll be interesting to see what the outcome is as the wrestlers, and their fans, fight to feature in Rio and beyond.

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