3 Reasons Cool Runnings Is Mostly Made Up (And Why It Doesn’t Matter)

With the eyes of the world now squarely on Sochi, the Winter Olympics brings to mind what may be the best loved sports movie of all time.

Ian Coomber

Contributor

Coolr

Walt Disney Pictures

With the eyes of the world now squarely on Sochi, the Winter Olympics brings to mind what may be the best loved sports movie of all time, Cool Runnings. Now unbelievably more than twenty years old it contends with Dodgeball to be THE true underdog story; going from the Caribbean to the Winter Olympics in 1988, the Jamaican Bobsleigh team had the most unlikely start, but have since gone from strength to strength.

They finished ahead of teams from the US, Russia, and France at Lillehammer in ’94, set an Olympic record for the two-man push start in 2002, and Brakeman Lascelles Brown became a multiple medal winner when competing for Canada (he gained citizenship through marriage). Despite having missed the last two Olympics in Turin and Vancouver, the current team also received one of the warmest welcomes during this years Opening ceremony.

Made only five years after the events it depicts however, the film takes more than a few liberties with the historical events of the teams formation. When described as a feel-good Disney comedy it cannot be faulted, but when seen in a wider context it is little more than a heavily manipulated tale that can only be described as “Jamaixploitation”. A film supposedly based on a true story it has no less than four credited writers, and as ’88 athlete Devon Harris would later elaborate, the similarities are few and far between: “There was a bobsled team from Jamaica. We had trouble getting sponsorship and we crashed in the Olympics in Calgary. That’s pretty much it.”

Here then, is a separation of fact from fiction, and a more accurate account of what took place in 1988 (and ’87).