Meet Ghana’s first Olympic Skeleton Bobsled athlete

Akwasi Frimpong is Ghana’s very first Olympic Skeleton athlete, making his first appearance at the 2018 Winter Olympics in February!

Frimpong is a sprinter, bobsledder and skeleton athlete. He’s had a long and hard journey that has taken him to where he is today. In light of Olympic history’s first Ghanian skeleton athlete, we want to share his story.

Akwasi is Ghanian born, but moved to the Netherlands with his parents at the age of 8.

After moving to the Netherlands, it took Akwasi and his family a long 13 years to finally earn a Dutch residence permit. His struggles living as an undocumented immigrant from a young age has helped shaped him into the self-assured Dutchman he is today.

One of the biggest challenges was finding a school that would accept him despite his illegal residence in the country. Luck was on his side, when he met Peter Jansen, the president of the Johan Cruyff Institute, who have Akwasi the chance to prove his talents by enrolling him in the school. It was the best place for him to be to get the best out of education as well as sports.

Grateful for the opportunity, Akwasi put in all his efforts into doing his best at his academics and athletic abilities. With no surprise, he achieved “International Student Athlete of the Year” in 2007, and became a star pupil of the school.

At age 15, he was coached by former Olympian Sammy Monsels, who helped him become the Dutch National Junior Champion in the 200m sprints in 2003 – earning him the nickname ‘GoldenSprint’. However, Akwasi had to overcome another setback.

He suffered an ankle injury that prevented him from representing Netherlands, and his native country Ghana, in the Olympics.

As Akwasi was still an undocumented immigrant at the time, he was unable to get immediate medical attention. But physiotherapist Michael Davidson, who had been a follower of Akwasi’s record-breaking achievements, offered him treatment for one euro.

Even with the help of Davidson, Akwasi still couldn’t recover fully from his injury, and couldn’t compete in runs for nearly three years.

He refused to let his injury stop him, and instead decided to make his big move to the US.  Akwasi gained a university scholarship at Utah Valley University and started working towards his athletic dreams. He started running again, setting record-breaking performances – one of his biggest being his gold medal in four 400m races at the Great West Indoor Championships!

Scouts took notice of Akwasi’s strength and speed and was selected for the Dutch Bobsled team in 2013. He now competes as a skeleton athlete, and is making history as the first Ghanian skeleton athlete competing at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea!

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