LILLEHAMMER, Norway _ Daniel Mayhew was less than enthusiastic when his physical education teacher first suggested the 17-year old Jamaican take up bobsledding.
“I was like, ‘I’m not doing that’ because of the cold and everything and I didn’t want it to affect school and stuff like that,” Mayhew recalled.
He eventually changed his mind, a decision that has led him to Lillehammer where he is the only Jamaican representative at the Winter Youth Olympics.
He is the first Jamaican to appear at the Games and will be competing in the new discipline of monobob, in which only one person operates a bobsleigh. The competition is scheduled to begin on Feb. 20th.
Mayhew’s teacher thought his running style would make him an ideal candidate for bobsledding and so far he’s been proved right, with Mayhew managing to qualify for the Games despite only stepping into a bobsled for the first time 11 months ago. He’s currently ranked 22nd in the world.
He says his first exposure to bobsleigh was through the movie Cool Runnings, which tells the story of the first Jamaican team’s appearance at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
One of the members of that 1988 team, Nelson Stokes, is now the president of the Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation.
According to Stokes, young Mayhew has the talent to make an impact in the sport.
“He’s already done very well, he’s very competitive,” Stokes said. “I think he’ll do very well here but at the end of the day this is just one step, it’s not even the first step, it’s the step before the first step.”
He’s nevertheless a bright prospect and Stokes sees him continuing to develop.
“I see him going on to Beijing (for the 2022 Winter Olympics),” Stokes said.
For his part, Mayhew is starting to develop a sense of self-belief to the point that he now thinks of himself as a bobsledder.
“I do but before I totally did not, not even imagine myself at the Olympics plus doing bobsled,” he said. “Right now I’m really, really proud.”
As for the upcoming Games, Mayhew said he is managing to remain calm. It’s typical of the sense of enjoyment Stokes says Jamaica brought to the sport when it first burst onto the scene.
“Everybody was all tense and uptight and shouting and carrying on and we’re like, ‘guys relax’,” he said.
The Associated Press