Cool Runnings (1993)

credit: www.latitude38.comAn unlikely team of bobsledding Jamaicans head for Canada to compete in the Olympics and freeze their royal Rastafarian nay-nays off.


As we enter the final week of the XXII Olympic Winter Games, I thought it was only right to pull out this early ‘90s classic.

It’s based on the true story, but Disney definitely took some liberties with what actually happened. Here were some of the big things Disney made up:

  • There was only one coach. (There were several, and none of them ever cheated.)
  • It’s cheating to put weights in a bobsled. (Adding weights is perfectly legal up to the maximum limit allowed.)
  • Other teams didn’t like the Jamaicans. (They were met with open arms—one team even lent them a back-up sled so they could qualify.)
  • Their sled had mechanical problems. (I watched an interview with the real driver of the bobsled, and he said the sled worked fine, he just lost control.)

And while the individual characters are fictional, I would just like to go on record saying that I wholeheartedly support the choice of naming the bald Jamaican “Yul Brynner.”

credit: www.theguardian.comSpeaking of characters, rumor has it that Denzel Washington turned down the role of Derice, and Eddie Murphy turned down the role of Sanka. I can empathize with their feelings as I myself once turned down the role of Shepherd No. 2 in an extended-family production of the Nativity. (It just didn’t feel right.)

OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW:  Now I’ve sat through a lot of slow claps in my day, but nothing prepared me for the agonizing molasses of applause that reigns atop the climax of Cool Runnings. Really though, it takes like 11 hours before the crowd fully commits.

I like the coach’s little heart-to-heart with one of the athletes toward the end of the film. He says, “Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without one, you’ll never be enough with one.”

That’s a good reminder for the rest of us non-Olympians, too. It’s nice to win competitions and receive public recognition for our achievements, but hard work and sacrifice are the real rewards of doing anything worthwhile. The improvements we make in the journey are more important than the destination.

Oh, and by the way: This week, and for the first time in over a decade, a Jamaican bobsled team is competing in the Sochi Olympics.

“Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.” – 2 Chronicles 15:7

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