The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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Lifestyle
  • Jamaican bobsledders hit Sundance before Olympics

    PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — This year's Sundance Film Festival has featured two former presidential candidates, rap stars, male strippers and rescue dogs. So why not the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team?

    The group appeared at the festival on Monday to promote their trip to Sochi for the Olympic Winter Games and seek some much-needed cash. When the team was approved entry this month, Jamaican officials said they didn't have the money to travel to Russia to compete. Coach Wayne Thomas said some funding has flowed in, but the team is still in need.

    "What we really need now is money to buy the equipment, specifically the runners," Thomas said of the skates attached to the bobsled. "The runners that we are using are very close to illegal right now."

    When asked what the deadline was for the cash, he joked, "Yesterday."

    So the team decided to head to Sundance to raise awareness, hoping that some celebrities with deep pockets might want to contribute.

    "We're here to let people know that we are here and still in need of funding," Coach Wayne Thomas said, adding jokingly, "And also to see some stars."

    "Only lady stars," said pilot Winston Watt, as the team broke into laughter.

    For some at Sundance, seeing the Jamaican bobsled team was like catching a glimpse of the movie stars who have packed Park City for the festival. The team attracted attention and happily posed for eager picture seekers in between bites at the pop-up MorningStar Farms Veggie Burger Bar, which has been providing free veggie burgers and other food for moviegoers. It was just one of their pit stops on Main Street as they tried to draw attention to their need for funding.

    They'll get an even bigger spotlight when they travel to Sochi next month. The Caribbean island nation's entry to the Winter Olympics in 1988 caused a huge media stir and inspired the movie "Cool Runnings." This year's team says that members of the 1988 team have offered advice.

    The athletes have been training since last summer and have been in Evanston, Wyo., for practice in icy conditions.

    "Despite being from a tropical country, we don't think of lots of obstacles," said Wayne Blackwood, a brakeman. "We stay focused."

    "We just want to go up there and do our best," said the team's other brakeman, Marvin Dixon, who will hold the flag for Jamaica during the opening and closing ceremonies.

    They don't see themselves as a novelty act in the Olympics, but real competitors.

    "I'm one of the best brakeman in the world right now," Dixon said matter-of-factly.

    Blackwood said they would be comparable to other nations excelling in the bobsled competition if they had better equipment. "That's what we want, equipment — and we are up there with them," he said,

    The Jamaican delegation has to be in Sochi on Feb. 4. They say they're not concerned with security despite bombings in Russia last month that left several dead.

    They also expressed tolerance for gay athletes, who will compete in Sochi despite last year's implementation of a law banning homosexual "propaganda" among minors. Russia's crackdown on gays had led some to call for a boycott of the Games there.

    "For me, you is you, I am me. You be yourself, I'll be myself," Dixon said.

    January 21, 2014

  • ELI Mustang lovers everywhere plan to honor Eli Williams

    Eli Williams, 9, is a Mustang man. And he is in good company.

    January 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • Brianne Hargrove Distinguished Young Women: Elkmont senior representing Limestone County

    January 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Aluminum Revolution: Ford introduces a new F-150

    Ford pickups have been doing the country's work for 66 years. They've hauled grain, towed logs and plowed snow. They've cleared debris after tornadoes and pulled floats in the Rose Bowl parade.

    They've shouldered those loads with parts forged from steel. Until now.

    January 13, 2014

  • Melanie Bridgeforth Athens native named executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children

    Melanie Bridgeforth to be children’s new advocate during legislative session

    January 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SilverSneakers SilverSneakers: Local seniors invite others to take part in SilverSneakers FLEX fitness program

    January 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Have a cup of cheer on the Athens Square

    If you’re looking for something to “spice” up your Christmas shopping, visit the downtown Athens Square for the annual Sippin’ Cider.

     

    December 11, 2013

  • Athens Christmas Open House this weekend

    If you’re in the mood for a weekend filled with unique shopping, yuletide fellowship and holiday fun (and who isn’t?), make plans to be downtown for the annual Athens Christmas Open House. 

    November 21, 2013

  • Hilltop Hilltop Arts Festival: Elkmont plays host to 2nd annual event Nov. 2

    October 24, 2013 1 Photo

  • pumpkins Calling all carvers: News Courier’s pumpkin carving contest kicks off

    October 16, 2013 1 Photo

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