Jamaica Magazine

Book Review – Cool Runnings and Beyond

Book Description
Applying the vivid metaphor of “Fire on Ice”, author Nelson “Chris” Stokes begins his account of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Team, citing its spectacular crash at the 1988 Calgary Olympics to its triumphs across world competition. Once a novelty portrayed in the motion picture Cool Runnings, the team has become a phenomenon, quite unlike any other sporting enterprise, prompting journalists and sports historians to rave about its indomitable spirit, its uncanny survival, its crowd-pleasing collective personae.

All this is recorded in Cool Runnings and Beyond: The Story of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Team where team member Stokes describes how, once kindled, this little flame called Jamaica Bobsleigh refused to sputter, but flared like its Olympic counterpart. First dismissed as a gimmick when it burst on the scene at the Calgary Games, Jamaica Bobsleigh began to truly compete, and the world began taking measure.

These islanders from the tropics proved they could race on ice and if given enough practice, funds, and support, they might become medal contenders.

Now president of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation, Chris Stokes provides two narratives from his experience as an Olympian and a member of the world bobsleighing community. One details the personalities, those grinding training regimens, and the raw hopes and fears, disasters and determination found behind the familiar media images. Drawing from his experience within the fluid and dynamic demands of marketing Jamaica Bobsleigh, Chris also provides lessons for fundraising, building a vibrant and visionary business, and for those who would seek personal growth in context of teamwork.


When a bobsleigh team from Jamaica arrived on the Olympic stage, reactions spanned the gamut from delight to scorn. Some in the racing community embraced it and the idea warmly; others dismissed this tropical upstart as a marketing gimmick. A motion picture, Cool Runnings, took its inspiration from this compelling theme of an underdog challenging the staid and traditional. Author and team member Nelson “Chris” Stokes describes the birth of Jamaica Bobsleigh as a natural marriage of ability and desire. Modern sporting records will confirm the prowess of athletes from this small nation, and many Jamaicans have stood on the world’s podiums as champions. The organizers of Jamaican Bobsleigh were serious and convinced a cadre of superb athletic islanders—men and women—could excel, even from these ice-less climes, given training and national support. Cool Runnings and Beyond is the account, beginning in 1988, of the team’s crashes, recoveries, triumphs, and emergence as an ongoing contender in the Winter Olympics. Once established as a force, the team was no longer an endearing amusement. It now demanded the respect normally granted the giants in the sport and a new marketing strategy.

Author Stokes blends his national and international experience with that of his brother and a remarkable crew of racers, visionaries, and coaches who met the team’s needs at critical times during its growth. As president of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation, he applied his executive skills toward keeping the dream alive, drawing lessons for achievers and those who would succeed in the office or on the field of competition.

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About the author

Staff Writer