The Trinidadian Bobsled Team in preliminaries.
George Bissessar, Willie “Quick Fingers” Bolada, Chaz “Wacky Hair” Mumfredo, Patrick “The Quick Oaf” Cato
Silver Medal, Four-Man Bobsled
Trinidad we have a bobsled team
Sledding down a bobsled stream
From Port of Spain to France on a plane
We’ll make winning gold quite the pain
Tobago we have a bobsled team
Our steel pan drums become a mean machine
We may all have used to run
But now we take our sleds out for fun
T and T we have a bobsled team
And Olympic gold is our dream
You may think we are two countries
But we’re not cause we’ve got sled unity
-Trinidadian Bobsled Anthem
In the run up to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Trinidadian sprinter George Bissessar was a shoo in for the games. The pride of the Trinidad and Tobago track and field program, he was consistently under 9.9 seconds in the 100 meter dash, easily fast enough to challenge for a spot on the medal podium. In the preliminary heats he was the fastest man on the track by two-tenths of a second. But in the final, while running out of lane four he was tripped by competitor Patrick “The Quick Oaf” Cato. Neither would qualify for Barcelona, their dreams of gold dashed.
Meanwhile, disgraced former Canadian bobsledder Bob Laughlin had moved to Trinidad a few years earlier in search of dog races and cheap rum. And he had found both in droves. By 1992 he was making a living doping greyhounds for local racing magnate Big Jaw Cordell. He had put on 150 pounds since his athletic peak, when his gold medal at the Lake Placid games was taken away from him for acts of violence against a competitor.
Needing to drink away his shame, after his race Bissessar wound up at Tilly’s Shack, a local haunt for ne’er do wells. Having consumed no liquor in the run up to the qualifications, he quickly became intoxicated, and started telling his life story to anyone who would listen. As fate would have it, he wound up on a bar stool next to Laughlin, who was also very drunk. After a couple hours of conversation and Scorpion Bowls, they resolved to join forces for the 1994 games in Lillehammer, France. They would create the first great Caribbean Bobsled team.
In 1993 a film called Cool Runnings was released by Disney. It chronicled a real life Jamaican Bobsled team who competed in the Calgary Olympics in 1988. It went on to gross over 150 million dollars worldwide. It is unknown as to how the Trinidadian team never heard of this film, or the true story behind it. Perhaps they were training too intensely. Perhaps there was an embargo on Disney films coming to Trinidad and Tobago. Either way, as the Trinidadian team of Bissessar, Cato, Willie “Quick Fingers” Bolada, and Chaz “Wacky Hair” Mumfredo set out to take the world by storm with their unexpected Bobsled success, they had no idea that the road had already been paved.
When they arrived in Lillehammer, Coach Laughlin immediately taught his team about their most villainous competitors: the Germans. Led by Dirk “Hammer Arms” Muller and Fritz “Don’t Call Me Hitler” Hitler, the unified German bobsled team was a force to be reckoned with, both on the sled track, and in the kindness department. Whereas their East German predecessors were cruel and petty towards the Jamaican bobsled team, Dirk and Fritz welcomed the Trinidadians with open arms. Coach Laughlin though had did not even realize that Germany had reunified, so deep and long was the drunken stupor he was living in. Laughlin instructed his team to, “spit on those Kraut fuckers so they can’t spit on you first.” Dirk and Fritz were dismayed by the hostile Trinidadian response to their attempt to shake hands and exchange course tips, and vowed to turn the other cheek and only be kinder the next time the two teams met.
Meanwhile, Coach Laughlin was having more troubles of his own. Banned from all Olympic events by the IOC after the sled weighting scandal, he was forced to apologize in front of the IOC disciplinary committee. Unfortunately, when asked about what he had done in the intervening years since his suspension, Laughlin was too honest with his reply of, “injecting steroids into dogs at the behest of the Big Jaw,” and became the first person to be “Double-Banned” from the Olympics.
Without a coach, and distrustful of their closest allies, the Trinidadian team decided at the behest of Chaz “Wacky Hair” Mumfredo, to parade down the streets of Lillehammer singing their anthem to announce what they thought would be a shocking presence to the world of the Winter Games. Having no idea that the Jamaicans had beaten them to the punch by 6 years, they were dismayed to find that their march was met with cries of, “this shit again,” “poseurs,” and, “that hair ain’t so Wacky, Wacky Hair.” These taunts led to another round of aggressive face spitting that further alienated the rest of the Olympic community.
“It’s us against the world,” said Bissessar as he gathered his men back in their Olympic Village dormitory. “Tomorrow we hit the track, and we show them what no one has ever seen: a Caribbean bobsled team!” As the team cheered and danced, in the Olympic Village Grand Councourse the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team was giving a motivational speech entitled, “Overcoming the Odds, Jamaica Against The World” to the rest of the competitors. The Trinidadians still had no idea that they existed.
After receiving best wishes from the Germans which led to another round of violent face spitting, the Trinidadian team hit the track. Unlike their Jamaican competitors, the Trinidadian team was prepared, as Laughlin had funneled his dog track money into building a replica of the Olympic track in Trinidad. The team put up the third best time in preliminaries, easily qualifying for the finals. Though initially booed off the course, Fritz and Dirk, who were sitting in second place behind only the Swiss team, gave a rousing speech to the crowd about understanding the diversity of cultures. The crowd’s jeers were replaced with tepid applause.
That night, as the competitors slept in the run up to the finals, Coach Laughlin wearing a crude fake mustache made out of his own pubic hair as a disguise, broke into the German’s dormitory in an attempt to frame them for doping. Apparently unaware that there would be security cameras, Laughlin was immediately apprehended, and “Triple-Banned with Extreme Prejudice” from all future Olympic Games. The Germans took this attack personally and resolved to send a Bavarian muffin basket to the Trinidadians to help smooth things over.
The finals were a rousing affair, with the Germans putting up a World Record time, and the Trinidadians shocking the Swiss to take silver. One would have thought that sharing medals at the Olympics would finally have brought harmony to the German and Trinidadian camps, but Coach Laughlin would make sure that his strange grudge would not be forgotten. He charged the podium during the German anthem yelling, “Sic Semper Berliner!” He stabbed Fritz “Don’t Call Me Hitler” Hitler once before security guards could intervene as a young Bob Costas let loose what would become one of his most memorable calls: “Not Hitler! Oh god, don’t kill Hitler!”