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article imageI miss my mum, says Jamaican bobsleigh pilot

By Alexandre FEDORETS (AFP)     Feb 13, 2014 in World

Winston Watts stands at 1.82m (6ft) and weighs in at an imposing 107kg (236lbs), but the burly pilot of the Jamaican Olympic bobsleigh team admitted on Thursday that he's a big softy who misses his mother.

The 46-year-old Watts, who is taking part in a fourth Olympics but first since 2002, said he was feeling particularly homesick on the eve of Valentine's Day.

"Yes, I'm a mommy's boy and of course I miss her. But now it's easier because I was in the military," said Watts after he and brakemen Marvin Dixon had taken their first training run down the Sanki sliding centre track.

"When I was in the military I was away from home for a long time. Now this is just like another military posting but I still talk to my mom almost every evening."

Watts also admitted that he still watches "Cool Runnings", the Hollywood movie which famously chronicled Jamaica's famous first appearance at a Winter Olympics, at Calgary in 1988.

"I still watch that movie as if it's the first time I'm watching it," Watts said. "It's very inspiring."

Watts and Dixon were down in 25th place in training on Thursday, over a second behind Francesco Friedrich of Germany but ahead of five other rivals in the 30-team, two-man bobsleigh event.

"I'm still learning about this track," added Watts, a veteran of the 1994, 1998 and 2002 Olympics.

"And I'm trying to grasp what I can get from my coach. Hopefully by the time the competition starts I'll get all of what the coach has said."

That Jamaica made it to the track is something of a minor miracle after they needed to raise funds to finance their trip to Russia and then saw their luggage and equipment get lost en route.

"My first runs were a bit tricky as I was losing control of my bob sometimes. Now it's much, much better. I feel much more confident," said Watts.

Jamaica-1  two-man bobsleigh steered by Winston Watts takes a practice run at the Sanki Sliding Cent...
Jamaica-1, two-man bobsleigh steered by Winston Watts takes a practice run at the Sanki Sliding Centre in Rosa Khutor on February 13, 2014 during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games
Leon Neal, AFP

"We're approaching this event as underdogs, no doubt in it. And we know that it was a rocky road to get here. But we are not here to just to be at Sochi, we are here for a reason. And we hope to perform well."

Watts added that he and Dixon were keen not to get too distracted by their new-found fame.

"For me, we are very highly focussed. We don't want to just slide two times on ice. We worked hard to get here and we want to go back feeling pride for what we've done here."

The final of the two-man bobsleigh takes place on Monday.

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