Thu | Oct 6, 2022

‘My dream is complete’

British-born bobsledder always had dreams of Olympics for Jamaica

Published:Sunday | February 27, 2022 | 12:11 AMSharla Williams - Gleaner Writer

Shanwayne Stephens, Ashley Watson, Rolando Reid and Matthew Wekpe, of Jamaica, arrive to the finish area after the four-man heat 2 at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Saturday, February 19, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing.
Shanwayne Stephens, Ashley Watson, Rolando Reid and Matthew Wekpe, of Jamaica, arrive to the finish area after the four-man heat 2 at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Saturday, February 19, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing.

BRITISH-BORN NATIONAL bobsledder Ashley Watson said it was always a dream to compete for Jamaica.

Watson, who was born to a Jamaican father, said he has always been inspired by the athleticism of the nation and fell in love with the island after he visited at an early age.

“[After visiting] I instantly felt a strong connection and decided to embark on this journey to give back to Jamaica what it has given to me, and as a tribute to my late grandparents who were born and lived in Jamaica,” he said.

“As a child I always said to my parents I wanted to compete for Jamaica, as I was always inspired by Jamaican athletes.”

His dream came to reality after competing as a member of the Jamaica four-man bobsled team during the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, this year.

“Qualifying for the Olympics for team Jamaica was a very hard journey. There were many barriers in the way like a lack of funds, but something Jamaicans do well is to make the best situation of what we have,” Watson said.

“My goals are always to get a medal at the Olympics. However, I would love for us to become the best Jamaican team in history, meaning we would have to better 14th place,” he said.

PLACED 28TH

However, Watson and his teammates only managed to place 28th at the Winter Olympics and so were unable to better Jamaica’s highest placing at the Olympics, 14th at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

Outside of bobsleigh, Watson’s life is still very much filled with sports, as he has an undergraduate degree in sports therapy and completed his master’s degree in physiotherapy just this year.

He said his educational background has helped him a lot and has allowed him to help his teammates.

“This allows me to be able to prepare my body to be ready for the races, keeping injury-free and keeping on top of any niggles, aches and pains,” Watson said.

“When we didn’t have a physio in season for the first three weeks or so, I would do some check overs on athletes (but) I’m in season to compete not be the physio, so I kept it at a minimum and stopped when a physio came.”

In an Instagram post, Watson said completing his master’s degree while attempting to compete for Jamaica at the same time came at a great sacrifice, but that it was a sacrifice he did not regret making.

According to Ashley, that sacrifice may just serve to inspire young Jamaicans.

“I’M AN OLYMPIAN. My childhood dream is complete. One Love, Ashley,” read the same post.

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