Jamaica: Ice hockey trials fuel Winter Olympic dreams

  • 27 August 2014
Chris Stewart of the Buffalo Sabres previously played for the St Louis Blues (right)
Canada-born Chris Stewart is one of several NHL players of Jamaican descent

Jamaica has held its first ever try-outs for a national ice hockey team in an attempt to emulate its Winter Olympic bobsleigh adventures, it seems.

Over 20 players turned up in Toronto, Canada, for the Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation trials led by Graeme Townshend, the first ever Jamaican to play in the National Hockey League, the Jamaica Observer reports. With more interested players expected to come forward in the coming months, Kingston-born Townshend, who played a total of 45 NHL games in the early 1990s, was upbeat about their chances: "If Jamaica can get a team in the World Championship or the Olympics that's something so outlandish I think it might actually work."

But the Jamaican efforts haven't gone unnoticed in Canada, where the Toronto Sun accuses them of "poaching" Canadian athletes of Jamaican descent to fill out its national ice hockey roster for the Olympics. Their plans face enormous hurdles - Jamaica would need to win a pre-qualifying tournament before the qualification rounds, and officials say an appearance at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea looks unlikely.

If the team eventually reaches the Olympics, they'd be following in the tracks of the country's Cool Runnings bobsleigh team that first qualified for the 1988 games, and took part in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Jamaica's bobsleigh team at the 2014 Winter Olympics
Jamaica's bobsleigh team took part in the 2014 Winter Olympics after an online crowdfunding effort

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