by Bridget Boakye, at 08:50 am, January 16, 2018, Sports

Ghana’s first skeleton athlete, Akwasi Frimpong, qualifies for 2018 Winter Olympics

Akwasi Frimpong, Ghana’s first skeleton athlete, has qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Frimpong needed to rank in the top 60 on the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) world ranking by January 14, 2018. He achieved this feat with 14th- and 15th-place finishes in Lake Placid this weekend.

He is the only Ghanaian to qualify for the Winter Sports and his journey to the Games is worthy of praise.

About Akwasi Frimpong

Akwasi Frimpong is an athlete, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. He moved from Ghana to the Netherlands at the age of eight and quickly took to sports.

Although he experienced early success as a track and field sprinter, having been recruited by Dutch-Surinamese athlete Sammy Monsels, and winning many metals, including the Dutch junior national championship at the age of 17, he struggled with both injury, near misses, and immigration issues, which mired his dreams to compete in the Olympics at an early age.

In 2008, he won an athletic scholarship to the United States where he prepared to make the 2012 summer Olympics but failed to qualify. At 26, and just as he was starting to feel like he might have his Olympic dreams thwarted as he began to slow down in track and field, he was courted to join the Dutch bobsleigh team. But there, he also failed to qualify for the Games. In 2015, he switched from bobsled to skeleton and with tenacity and perseverance, he has finally qualified for the Olympics in what CNN has termed the “death – defying” sport.

“With all the things I went through as an (track and field) athlete in the Netherlands and the US, I have learned to face fear. I have learned that it’s possible,” Frimpong said in an interview with Business Insider last year.

“Through skeleton I’m trying to show people to come out of their comfort zone as much as possible and get into something different. We cannot all be Abedi Pele, we cannot all be Usain Bolt, but we all have talent that we can definitely use, ” Frimpong explained.

Africa, Frimpong, and The Olympics

Ghana only debuted at the Winter Sports in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia where Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, popularly known as the “Snow leopard”, represented the country in the slalom ski event. Frimpong is the second.

For the West African country that has never seen snow, the presence of its athlete on ice in the Olympics sport is great feat, and one set to expand as athletes like Frimpong look to put the country ‘on the map’.

In fact, Frimpong launched the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation-Ghana (BSF-Ghana) last year. Over 45 young people from across the country participated in the debut event to introduce winter sports in  the country. BSF-Ghana has been accepted by the National Sports Authority of Ghana and is the first official winter sport federation in Ghana.

Frimpong is the first athlete from West Africa ever to compete in the skeleton event, and the first black male skeleton athlete from the entire continent of Africa.

Congratulations Frimpong! We all support you!


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