Akwasi Frimpong is a Dutch-Ghanaian sprinter, bobsledder and skeleton athlete who has stolen many hearts at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Frimpong spent the first 8 years of his life living in Ghana with his grandmother. It was then that he moved to live with his mother Esther Amoako, who was a gospel singer in the Netherlands. It took many years for Frimpong to be given Dutch citizenship. As an illegal immigrant it was hard to find a school that would take him. He was eventually given a chance at the Johan Cruyff College. It was whilst at school that Frimpong began sprinting and was in fact crowned Dutch junior national champion at the 200 metres. He was determined that he wanted to represent the Netherlands at the Olympics and trained hard to pursue his dream of competing in the 2012 Olympics. Before he was granted citizenship Frimpong wouldn’t compete internationally as he was concerned that he wouldn’t be allowed back into the country. His 2012 Olympic dream was shattered as with an injury he failed to meet the qualifying times and to make the Dutch team.
The Dutch bobsleigh coaches were looking for sprinters and they took note of Frimpong. After the Dutch bobsleigh team noticed him he tried out as brakeman for the four man bob sleigh team. He did compete in the two man bob but again didn’t make the Dutch Winter Olympic team in 2014. When time came to qualify for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Frimpong just missed the final team selection for the Dutch bobsled team. So he was urged to think about skeleton instead. The sport is essentially bobsled’s cousin, but athletes compete alone instead of with a team. It requires immense strength and speed for the initial moments when the athlete runs along the side of their sled before hopping on and sliding up to 90 miles per hour down the track, their chins resting just above the ice. A slow start can derail the entire competition.
After his disappointment at not making the team, Frimpong did in fact, then decide to change sports and took up the skeleton seriously. Having failed to make the Dutch Olympic team he decided he wanted to represent Ghana but this time in the skeleton. This came with its own problems as before people can compete internationally their home country needs to have a Federation registered with its own government. With the help of a friend Frimpong set up the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation-Ghana (BSF). Frimpong is the only athlete representing Ghana in Pyeongchang, and only the second Ghanaian to ever participate in the Winter Olympics. As the only Ghanaian athlete Frimpong had the huge honour of carrying his national flag at the Opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics.
On February 15, the 32-year-old sprinted beside a small, brakeless sled, then flattened himself onto it and plunged headfirst down a frozen track of ice, becoming the first ever West African to compete in the sport of skeleton at the Olympic level. He finished 30th in both runs. As much as this is a huge achievement and one that in the past films have been made about this isn’t the only reason that Frimpong became a firm favourite with the crowd. At the end of every run Frimpong danced his way off the track and it is this that has won him lots of supporters and social media followers. This dance routine is guaranteed to make you smile. Click here to watch him
We all know how important it is to win but for Frimpong it isn’t just about that, it is about his whole journey, determination and what he has done to achieve his own goals but shows how important it is just to have fun along the way. Frimpong’s goal is “proving that anything is possible through hard work by achieving Olympic glory!”