Cool Runnings inspires first skier to represent Jamaica at Winter Olympics

A former DJ will become the first skier ever to represent Jamaica at the Winter Olympics next month.

Benjamin Alexander only took up the sport in 2016 and does not have a full-time coach. But he managed to qualify for Beijing after finishing seventh in the giant slalom at the Cape Verde National Ski Championships on 12 January.

The 38-year-old, who grew up in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire but has a Jamaican father, will be the first alpine skier – and the 15th athlete in history – to compete for Jamaica at the winter Games.

Pic: Stephen Shelesky & Noah Wallace

The 38-year-old has skied on 450 days of the past two years. Pic: Stephen Shelesky & Noah Wallace

He says his unlikely story is partly inspired by the legendary 1988 bobsleigh team – who were the first Jamaicans in history to take part in the Winter Olympics – before crashing out and finishing last.

They were transformed into cult heroes by the 1993 film Cool Runnings.

Asked how he felt about taking part, Mr Alexander told Sky News: “It feels amazing.

“The biggest emotion I have right now is relief. I have put my entire life into this, my savings, my reputation, absolutely everything. It’s taken 200% of my all to get here.”

Two-year plan to get to Olympic standard

Two years ago the engineering graduate decided to make a plan to “get to Olympic standard piece by piece”.

He says he has skied on 450 days of the past two years, unable to practice more due to the pandemic.

“I took on this project as a full endeavour in March 2020,” he said. “So a big part of my fight and struggle has been against the pandemic – not being able to get into the southern hemisphere to train during their winter and losing months and months of competitions due to them being cancelled.”

Pic: Stephen Shelesky & Noah Wallace

He will be the 15th athlete in history to represent Jamaica at a winter Games. Pic: Stephen Shelesky & Noah Wallace

Although he has never lived there, Mr Alexander was able to spend four months in Jamaica when he got stuck in the Caribbean as the pandemic broke out 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 cheer at the Olympics is always for the host country, but the second biggest cheer is always for Jamaica,” he said.

Pic: Stephen Shelesky & Noah Wallace

Mr Alexander is hoping to inspire young Jamaicans. Pic: Stephen Shelesky & Noah Wallace

Skier cites Cool Runnings as an inspiration

Asked if Cool Runnings had influenced him, he replied: “Had it not been for that movie and my friends making jokes about me being like Cool Runnings I don’t think this plan would have been concocted.”

And on his hopes of winning, he added: “I don’t want to take anything away from the people who started from the age of two.

“My story is all about participation and hopefully inspiring the next generation of Jamaican children to start earlier than 32.”

The Beijing Winter Olympics begins on 4 February.

Related posts

‘It’s fake news!’: Athlete debunks rumours of ‘anti-sex’ cardboard beds in Olympic Village by carrying out bounce test


In pictures: Aftermath of explosions and tanks on the streets


Russia will be allowed to compete in Eurovision Song Contest despite deepening Ukraine crisis


Baked Alaska – warm spell in coldest US state sees records broken but brings heavy snow


‘My son needs me so I will be with him’: The children to sick to flee the Russian bombs


Fears journalist arrested in Belarus has been tortured after Ryanair flight ‘hijacked’