A most commendable gesture from Red Stripe

Saturday, February 17, 2018

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Red Stripe's rescue of the Jamaica women's bobsleigh team at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is most commendable, but not surprising as this company has a proud history of supporting Jamaica and its people over many decades.

Jamaican hearts sank on Wednesday this week when news emerged that the team's driving coach — Olympic, world and European champion Ms Sandra Kiriasis — had quit and, according to media reports, made it known that she was legally responsible for the bobsled the team needed for competition.

A BBC report said that Ms Kiriasis wanted payment for the sled but the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation declined and was disputing that she owns the sled.

We have not heard Ms Kiriasis' side of the story and as such cannot make any judgement on her decision, especially from this distance. However, it was clear that her action created some amount of anxiety in the Jamaican camp.

Fortunately, the country breathed a collective sigh of relief on Thursday when Red Stripe USA offered the team a bobsled. “No bobsled, no problem. If you need a new ride @ Jambobsled , put it on @ RedStripe's tab. DM [direct message] us and we'll be in touch,” the beverage company is reported to have tweeted Thursday morning.

The offer speaks to Red Stripe's generosity of spirit and unwavering commitment to helping Jamaicans realise their dreams. For that women's bobsleigh team — just like their male counterparts who made a historic appearance at the 1988 Calgary games — qualified for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics with a dream of making a mark in a sport that is not traditional to Jamaica.

By simply making it to Pyeongchang the women's team are carrying on their shoulders the hopes and dreams of a nation known globally for its athletic prowess and keen sense of competition. Indeed, that fortitude and never-say-die Jamaican characteristic were evident in Calgary 30 years ago and helped to inspire the 1993 movie Cool Runnings , which has grown to become a cult classic.

It appears that similar sentiments are being extended to the women's team, as, according to Ms Kathleen Pulito, a spokeswoman for the team, the departure of Ms Kiriasis has not impacted their preparations and they will be on the ice this weekend for training ahead of next week's qualification rounds.

“We've been approached by many nations with extra equipment, coaching staff and we're extremely thankful,” Ms Pulito told the French news agency Agence France Press , adding, “The Canadians have offered assistance.”

While we congratulate Red Stripe for this gesture, we must point out that the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation needs to ensure that the country's athletes competing in winter sports are properly equipped. We accept that this type of equipment is not inexpensive, but it is best that we have our own, and there are quite a number of ways that the federation can make sure of that.




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