Even if Cool Runnings is your sole source of bobsleigh knowledge, you’ll know that track athletes possess the raw potential to be superb bobsleighers. Here’s your SPIKES guide to track and field’s little brother.

Powerful leg muscles provide the raw speed fundamental to a fast bobsleigh run, and many top athletes follow their Olympic dreams out onto the ice.

US sprint hurdler Lolo Jones (above) has unfinished business. After narrowly missing out on medals at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, she has turned her attention to Olympic glory in Sochi. 

Before you tune in to see how Jones and fellow track star Lauryn Williams fare, here are seven things worth knowing about bobsleigh.

1. Hurdling heroes

Lolo Jones may be one of the highest-profile athletes competing in Sochi, but she’s not the first US hurdler to make the jump between the sports. Willie Davenport won gold over 110m in Mexico City 1968, and 12 years later represented USA in the bobsleigh. 


Warming up: the great Willie Davenport wins gold in Mexico City.

Double Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses also bookended a glittering career with a stint in the bobsled, finishing a respectable seventh at the 1991 world championship.

2. Caribbean surprise

Jamaica’s fairy tale may have been immortalised by Disney, but Puerto Rico also had a bobsleigh team – at the 1992, 1994 and 1998 winter Games.

3. Big Las

Powerhouse brakeman Lascelles Brown competed for Jamaica at Salt Lake City 2002, and after switching to represent Canada, won Olympic silver in the two-man competition four years later. He remains the only Jamaican-born athlete to win a Winter Olympic medal.

Lascelles Brown - it takes big arms to stop a 390kg sleigh

4. Doubling up

Before 1994, the winter and summer games took place in the same year, making competing in both almost impossible. The first games under the new calendar took place in Lillehammer, where Canadian sprinter Glenroy Gilbert competed in the bobsleigh. Two years later, he returned to the track, winning 4x100m relay gold in Atlanta alongside Donovan Bailey.

5. The broad church

Since 1994, a range of athletes have competed in bobsleigh. International sprinters, decathletes, high jumpers, javelinists, hammer throwers, footballers, a rugby player, a wrestler and even an arm wrestlers have all appeared at winter Olympics.

6. Hello Kitty

The women’s bob was first introduced in 2002. Because there were initially fewer competitors, teams turned to athletics in the search for talent. Six-time Dutch national Javelin champion Kitty van Haperen was among a number of athletes who shelved track and field for a shot at bobsleigh glory.


Cool runner Allyn Condon in the relay heats at Sydney 2000

7. Imitating art

Sydney 2000 and Vancouver 2010 Olympian Allyn Condon was honest about the inspiration behind his switch to the sport: “It’s so cheesy when people ask ‘what made you get into bobsleigh?’ and you say ‘Cool Runnings’, But that was the reason.”