‘Dis­ap­pointed’ coach quits Ja­maican bob­sled team

Waterloo Region Record - - Sports - MATT BONESTEEL

The Ja­maican women’s bob­sled team al­ready faced tremen­dous odds at achiev­ing any­thing close to a medal at the Win­ter Olympics. And now its chal­lenge has be­come much more ar­du­ous:

San­dra Kiri­a­sis, the team’s Ger­man driv­ing coach, has quit only days be­fore com­pe­ti­tion was to be­gin.

Ac­cord­ing to the BBC, team of­fi­cials asked Kiri­a­sis to change her role from driv­ing coach to track per­for­mance an­a­lyst.

She re­fused, as it would have meant she would have no ac­cess to team mem­bers Jazmine Fen­la­tor-Vic­to­rian and Car­rie Rus­sell, who com­prise Ja­maica’s first Olympic women’s bob­sled team and are the first women from Ja­maica to com­pete at the Win­ter Games.

“San­dra Kiri­a­sis has elected not to con­tinue her po­si­tion. We are deeply dis­ap­pointed in her de­ci­sion to leave the pro­gramme,” Ja­maican bob­sled of­fi­cials said in a state­ment.

“We thank her for her in­valu­able con­tri­bu­tion and con­tribut­ing to the suc­cess of Ja­maica’s first fe­male bob­sled Olympic ap­pear­ance.”

Kiri­a­sis, who won women’s bob­sled gold at the 2006 Turin Games and sil­ver four years ear­lier in Salt Lake City, be­came the team’s driv­ing coach late last year.

“I have never known such dis­ap­point­ment in this sport, in my life,” she told the BBC. “The ath­letes have told me they don’t un­der­stand why this has hap­pened as they have no prob­lem with me and we have a good re­la­tion­ship.”

Ac­cord­ing to mul­ti­ple re­ports, Kiri­a­sis owns the sled be­ing used by the Ja­maicans. Should she de­cide to take it away from them, it likely would re­quire them to with­draw from the com­pe­ti­tion (team of­fi­cials de­nied to Tariq Panja of the New York Times that it plans to pull out).

“The whole sit­u­a­tion is a com­plete mess. This will have an ef­fect on the Ja­maican team, whether be­cause they have lost their world-class coach or both coach and equip­ment,” John Jack­son, a for­mer pi­lot for Bri­tain’s bob­sled team, told the BBC.

“The most im­por­tant race in a life­time could be jeop­ar­dized by the in­ter­nal bick­er­ing within the Ja­maican Bob­sleigh and Skele­ton Fed­er­a­tion.”

The men’s bob­sled team from Ja­maica earned no­to­ri­ety 30 years ago by com­pet­ing at the Cal­gary Win­ter Olympics, a story that be­came the 1993 Hol­ly­wood movie “Cool Run­nings.”

NEW YORK TIMES FILE PHOTO

The Ja­maican women’s bob­sled team takes part in the open­ing cer­e­mony in Pyeongchang.

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