Jamaica’s bobsled driving coach, Sandra Kiriasis, has left the team just days before competition begins in the PyeongChang Winter Games. The coach’s departure will not affect the team’s participation in the games, despite previous reports that the team’s equipment, including the sled, belonged to Kiriasis.
A Jamaican bobsled rep said the woman’s team would not be affected by the coach’s departure, and would be using the same equipment.
Jo Manning and Dudley Stokes are the head coaches of the team. They remain on board. According to the bobsled rep, the team will continue in the driving coach’s absence.
The BBC reported Kirasis, who was an Olympic bobsled champion for Germany in 2006, refused a request to change roles from driving coach to track performance analyst, which would have given her no access to the athletes. The BBC also reported the news that the sled belonged to Kirasis. Jamaican officials denied that information.
The Jamaican bobsled team realeased the following statement, via Twitter:
"Jamaica Bobsleigh is led by High-Performance Director, Joe Manning and supported by Coach Dudley Stokes. Driving Coach, Sandra Kiriasis has elected not to continue her position with Jamaica Bobsleigh. We are deeply disappointed in her decision to leave the program. We thank her for her invaluable contribution to JBSF and contributing to the success of Jamaica's first female bobsled Olympic appearance. Ms. Kiriasis's departure will not impact JBSF or its athlete's performance in the OWG."
Kiriasis said her contacts led to the team securing its sled, and that she wants payment for it. She released a statement on her facebook page.
"After some distorted facts have appeared in the media concerning my departure as coach of the Jamaican ladies bobsleigh team, I would like to put some things straight," she wrote. "Without giving any reasons, I was told out of the blue that with immediate effect I should work only as a track and performance analyst, would have to leave the Olympic village, would lose my accreditation as part of the Jamaican team and was not supposed toh ave any more contact with the athletes, etc.
This will be the first women’s team to compete for Jamaica at the Winter Games. Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian will pilot the sled with teammate Carrie Russell. The men have sent six teams, including the squad that inspired the movie Cool Runnings.
You can watch the women’s bobsled on Feb. 21 on this live stream.