Jamaican Bobsled Team | 7
Devon Harris always had a passion for sport and dreamed of competing in the Olympics as a teenager.
He spent his childhood in Haughton, a rural district in Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica, but moved to Olympic Gardens in Kingston, Jamaica.
"The thing that I would say kept me sane was school. I loved school. ... I loved to play and guess where I could play? At school. So I discovered sports. ... The thing I loved about sports was regardless of what your situation was off the field or on the field, man, it's my heart against yours; it's me against you and what you can bring to the table."
Harris said he was 15 years old when he had dreamed of being an Olympian.
"It's 1979 and I'm 15 years old and it was a year before the Moscow Olympic Games and ABC Wide World of Sports — American TV — had a series called Road to Moscow, and they showcased athletes from around the world, different nationalities and disciplines," he said.
"And what I saw in that series were these very average and ordinary people, but they had extraordinary dreams and they had an equally extraordinary desire to achieve those dreams."
Before pursuing his dream to become an Olympian, Harris enlisted in the army and in 1987, he was asked to try out of the first-ever Jamaican bobsledding team.
"We do this in Jamaica, called the Pushcart Derby, and two Americans who lived in Jamaica saw that and thought it looked like bobsledding," he said.
"They came to the army looking for athletes, and that's when I initially heard and as I mentioned, I was not interested. ... I thought it was the most absurd, ridiculous idea ever conceived by a man and I remember saying nobody could ever get me to go on one of those things until my Colonel suggested that I try out for the team."
With the idea in his head, Harris tried out of the team and earned one of four sports; he was going to attend the 1988 winter Olympics.
"That day I was literally flying around the beach. I just like, 'Oh,' so I was like, 'Whoa, I'm on the team, right?' Not officially, but yeah, I really felt like Superman," he said.
It was the Caribbean country’s first Winter games, but hardly its last. In the years since, Jamaica has appeared at every Winter Olympics outside the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy.
Team Jamaica will be competing in the 2022 winter games; it has qualified for the four-man bobsled and two other bobsled events in Beijing.
On this episode of What happened to...? Harris describes his journey to the 1988 Winter Olympics and Erica speaks with the current Jamaican bobsled team, which is looking to build upon the success of previous teams.
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