Bobsled push athletes need to be fast.
Usain Bolt is fastest man of all time.
So how would he do as a bobsled push athlete?
“I think he would be the best in the world, no question about it,” said Chris Stokes, a push athlete for 1988 Jamaican Olympic bobsled team that inspired the movie “Cool Runnings.”
Track-to-bobsled converts are common.
Of the three push athletes on the 2014 U.S. Olympic women’s bobsled team, two-Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams-competed in track and field at the 2012 Summer Olympics. On the men’s side, two of Bolt’s sprinting rivals-Ryan Bailey and Tyson Gay-tried out for the U.S. bobsled team.
“[Bolt] has ability to be very explosive for short distances,” Stokes said. “But most importantly, he has the ability to focus on high-quality athletic performance in the blink of an eye, which is very important in bobsled.”
Bolt ruled out a switch to bobsled, telling the Associated Press in 2016, “Anybody who knows me knows I don’t do well with cold.”
But that has not stopped others from imagining Bolt in a bobsled.
2014 Olympic bronze medalist Aja Evans, a track and field athlete at the University of Illinois, believes that Bolt’s “fearless mentality” would allow him to succeed in bobsled.
“I would love to see him go down a bobsled track,” Evans said. “The start times would definitely be fast, and then it’s all about getting down the track.”
Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, a Jamaican bobsledder who represented the U.S. at the 2014 Winter Olympics, agreed.
“He is self-proclaimed ‘slightly lazy,’ but when it’s time to win and be competitive, he’s such a hard worker,” she said about the 31-year-old Bolt. “He’s older, but in bobsled, you don’t have to run 100m. At most it’s 30m. So I think with his stature and ability, he definitely has what it takes to be a bobsledder. The only thing is mentally getting over being in cold weather.”
But Lolo Jones is not convinced that Bolt would excel on ice.
“I think he’s too tall and too skinny,” she said. “He’s fast, but I don’t know…”
Jones pointed out that bobsledders are expected spend long hours preparing their sled, often outside in freezing temperatures.
“Usain is used to getting his job done in nine seconds,” Jones said. “Why would he want to work 12 hours?”
Stokes, who is now President of the Jamaica Bobsled Federation, has had conversations with individuals who approached Bolt directly about trying the sport. But he is not expecting to see Bolt in a bobsled.
“I’ve heard him say if we can figure out a way to do it without the cold, then fine,” Stokes said. “But for the foreseeable future, winter and bobsled will be going together, so I’m not sure it will work out.”