Cool Runnings inspires first skier to represent Jamaica at Winter Olympics


The former DJ will be the first skier to represent Jamaica at the Winter Olympics next month.

Benjamin Alexander just took over the game in 2016 and has no full-time coach. But he managed to do well in Beijing after finishing seventh in the top flight at the Cape Verde National Ski Championship on January 12th.

38-year-old who grew up in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire but with a Jamaican father, he will be the first descendant in the mountains – and the 15th runner in history – to compete. Jamaica at the Winter Games.

Image:
A 38-year-old boy has played skiing for 450 days over the past two years. Photo: Stephen Shelesky & Noah Wallace

He says his unexpected story was co-sponsored by the famous bobsleigh team of 1988 – the first Jamaican in history to take part in the Winter Olympics – before winning the final.

He was transformed into a sectarian hero with the 1993 film Cool Runnings.

Asked how he felt about participating, Alexander told Sky News: “It sounds strange.

“The biggest impact I have right now is relief. I’ve invested my whole life in this, my finances, my reputation, everything. It took me 200% of my total to get here.”

A two-year goal to reach the Olympic level

Two years ago an engineering graduate decided to make a plan to “reach the Olympic level gradually”.

He says he has been playing skiing for 450 days over the past two years, unable to do much because of the epidemic.

“I took this project as a full-fledged effort in March 2020,” he said. “So a big part of my battle and my struggle has been to fight the plague – failing to enter the southern hemisphere to train in winter and lose months of competition because they were eliminated.”

Photo: Stephen Shelesky & Noah Wallace
Image:
He will be the 15th runner in history to represent Jamaica in the Winter Games. Photo: Stephen Shelesky & Noah Wallace

Although not yet, Alexander spent four months in Jamaica as he settled in the Caribbean when the outbreak began in March 2020.

There he was able to “learn more about the island” and appreciate the “cool factor” associated with it at the Games.

“The biggest excitement at the Olympics always comes from the host country, but the second biggest excitement is for Jamaica,” he said.

Photo: Stephen Shelesky & Noah Wallace
Image:
Alexander hopes to inspire Jamaican youth. Photo: Stephen Shelesky & Noah Wallace

Skier cites Cool Runnings as a boost

Asked if Cool Runnings touched him, he replied: “If it weren’t for the movie and my friends are making fun of me for being like Cool Runnings I don’t think the show would have been made.”

And in anticipation of the victory, he added: “I do not want to take anything from people who started when they were two years old.

“My issue is about participation and encouraging the next generation of Jamaican children to start 32 years old.”

The Beijing Winter Olympics kick off on February 4th.


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