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This Morgan State grad competing at the Winter Olympics wants to represent for all HBCUs

Morgan State alum, Rolando Reid, is part of the Jamaican bobsled team creating a big buzz in Beijing and back home

BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — Rolando Reid always dreamed of competing in the Olympics. But as a track and field star at Morgan State University in Baltimore, the 29-year-old never imagined he would be competing in the Winter Games. 

Now, Reid is preparing to make his Olympic debut with the Jamaican bobsled team on Feb. 18.

It took raw talent and a twist of fate for the island native to land on the four-man bobsled team.

“I think it hasn’t really hit me the way I was expecting it to," Reid said. "I’m just soaking in the moment day by day, and I think once it starts getting closer to that event, I’ll start getting goosebumps." 

Three years ago, after graduating from Morgan State and moving back home to Jamaica, Reid got a phone call from his brother who was interested in trying out for the Jamaican bobsled team. Reid agreed to help him train, not really thinking he would be the one to compete.

“I said, 'alright I’ll coach you for the tryouts, get you ready, get you prepared,'" Reid said. "On the day of the tryouts, they said 'hey, look, take part, and see what happens.' So, I took part, and fortunately, I was the number one selected candidate."

Jamaica’s top bobsled candidate quit his job as a full-time high school economics teacher to train full-time for the Olympics. He feels he’s representing more than just his home country in Beijing. He’s representing Morgan State University and all the historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)

“Here at the Olympics, there aren’t many countries that have people of color at the Olympic Games," he said. "And knowing that I’m representing that entire community and knowing that I’m a Morgan, and from the HBCU family, it’s just an awesome feeling."

RELATED: This Morgan State grad is competing for Jamaica's bobsled team at Winter Olympics

The Jamaican bobsled team gained worldwide popularity after the 1993 movie, "Cool Runnings" was released based on the true story of the 1988 four-man bobsled team who competed in Calgary. When this 2022 team qualified for Beijing, Jamaica’s famous bobsled team was reborn.

“It's absolutely buzzing here in Beijing," Reid said. "I think everyone in the entire world is rooting for us, and just happy to see that a Jamaican bobsled team, especially the four-man team, is back up and running."

Each time he competes, Reid says he remembers who he’s competing for, and the people who got him here dating back to his days at Morgan State under Coach Neville Hodge.

“I think Coach Hodge, as a former Olympian himself, played a major role in my development," Reid said. "Even today, I still hear him in my ear like, 'Rolando, dragging your feet isn’t going to cut it, you got to lift those legs.' He has played a significant role in this journey. If he hadn’t recruited me, I don’t know where I would be today."

Reid added that while there aren’t many in the Olympic village who look like him, this team isn't trying to blend in. The 2022 Jamaican bobsled team wants to stand out, and get the world to take notice.

“We are here, and we are representing," Reid said. "We are making it as loud as possible."

The four-man Jamaican bobsled team competes on Friday, Feb. 18. They will be training every day in Beijing leading up to their Olympic debut.

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