PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (BP) — He’s not on the bobsled team, but for Jamaican Anthony Watson, competing as Jamaica’s first skeleton racer in the Olympics is good enough.
Watson followed an unlikely path to qualify for the Olympics — so unlikely that he says the only explanation is God.
“I have been told since I was a kid by my father, who’s also my pastor, that he wanted dreams in his children to be so big that only God could fulfill them,” Watson told BP.
“Me being here is a miracle in itself.”
Though he was born and raised in New Jersey, Watson’s father Basil is a native Jamaican, which qualifies Watson to race for the country. Like many bobsled and skeleton athletes, Watson’s background is in track and field, and he also tried his hand at making the U.S. bobsled team.
When that didn’t work, he gave skeleton a shot. Last year he ranked 103rd in the world out of 135 athletes. This year he improved to 79th out of 149.
He needed some help, though, to qualify for the Olympics. The final spot came down to Watson and a racer for Luxembourg.
“Luxembourg mistakenly forgot to fill out his passport paperwork,” Watson said. “So the next person in line was myself. I got a call saying, ‘Congratulations, you’re going to the Winter Olympic Games.'”
Watson was overcome with gratitude to God. After he got the call, he turned on his worship music and sat down, saying “Thank you.”
“That’s only a God thing,” Watson said. “I was always told that God loves it when the odds are against Him, because that’s when He gets to show up. And when He does, you can’t take any of the credit. You’ve got to give it back to Him. So that’s just what I’m doing.”
Watson made his Olympic debut on Thursday in the first two of four heats in the skeleton competition. He’s in 29th place out of 30 racers, ahead of only Akwasi Frimpong of Ghana, also the first skeleton athlete from his country to appear in the Olympics. The final two heats of the event are scheduled for Friday.
But Watson knew he was facing a daunting task. His experience can’t compare to some of the world-class athletes he’s up against.
He’s OK with that because he’s already convinced that God had a direct hand in bringing him to this point.
“It’s an honor to be here, and it’s an honor to represent my family, my country and my Savior at the world’s biggest stage of athletics,” Watson said. “At the end of the day, however I place, to know that God is the one that got me here, to say ‘thank you’ and be grateful for the opportunities that come and the people you encourage and inspire along the way — that’s more than enough.”