Watson eyes gold - I want to go out and show Jamaicans can make it anywhere
Jamaica's first qualifier for the skeleton event at a Winter Olympics Games, Anthony Watson, will be aiming for gold and nothing less when he makes his debut in the sliding sport in Pyeongchang.
Watson, who is ranked 79th in the world was not high enough in the rankings to qualify for the Games, but after several nations refused their places, he received the final reallocated berth.
Watson first tried for the USA bobsleigh team before deciding to compete in the skeleton for Jamaica in 2016. However, the 29-year-old who was born in the United States to a Jamaican father, finished 38th at the last World Championship but is eyeing nothing less than a top podium finish in South Korea.
"I am aiming for gold, if I fall short I should be top five," he said "I was always taught by my coaches and family to aim high, so if you miss you (still) finish high. If you aim mediocre, you finish less," he told The Gleaner.
"It's an Olympics and it's a tough field. There has never been an Olympics where the field was easy. The field and the competitions get better and better. So for me to be in this position it says enough about my potential to do well. I am not here to play games. I am very serious because I am here to represent my heritage, my culture, country and family," he continued.
Waiting on the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation to allocate spots that had been forfeited, was a nerve-racking experience. However, when news came that he was given a spot, a great weight was lifted from his shoulders.
"It definitely came as a shock. I knew I was in contention, but it wasn't guaranteed based on my ranking and the amount of federations that sent requests.
"So it was an unsure, waiting game. It was very nerve-racking for two weeks .... that I just decided to go silent and not say anything because there was nothing definite."
A MAJOR RELIEF
However, when Jamaica Bobsled Federation (JBF) vice-president, Neo Campbell, messaged him early Monday morning (January 29) that he was allocated a spot, it was a major relief from all the anxiety.
"My heart literally felt it was going to jump out of my chest, this big weight and burden and nervousness just evaporated, all the weight was taken off my shoulders. I ran and told my mom and dad and we sang, danced and celebrated," he said.
But for the former track and field athlete, who is also a singer/songwriter, actor and model, it is just a huge honour to represent Jamaica at the Winter Olympic Games.
"I want to go out and show Jamaicans can make it anywhere. We are known for track and field but I feel we can bring through more Jamaicans to show our resilience and our pride. I have an entire country cheering for me, and it's the place I get my heritage and roots from ... So there is nothing better than getting to say that I am going to the Olympics to represent Jamaica," he said.
The 2018 Winter Games will run from February 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.