The Jamaican Bobsled Team first gained fame during their debut in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They are also well known from their portrayal in the 1993 film Cool Runnings, based on their exploits in the Winter Olympics.
Two Americans were largely responsible for the founding of the Jamaican Bobsled Team. George B. Fitch and William Maloney had family and business ties to Jamaica and after witnessing a pushcart derby they realized that it was very similar to bobsledding.
Since bobsledding requires a fast start, Maloney and Fitch decided to use sprinters, who are plentiful on the island nation of Jamaica. They originally tried to recruit Olympic-class sprinters, but no one was interested, so they presented their idea to Colonel Ken Barnes of the Jamaican military.
The first four members of the Jamaican bobsled team were:
• Devon Harris, a lieutenant in the Second Battalion, Jamaican Army
• Dudley Stokes, a captain from the JDF Air Wing
• Michael White, a private in the National Reserves
• Samuel Clayton, a railway engineer
They were coached by New York native Howard Siler, of Malone, New York.