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Disappointment drives Laura Deas on to success..

Before the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang not many people had heard of Laura Deas. Laura was the second British athlete to compete in the brutal sport of skeleton. Everyone has heard of Lizzy Yarnold who was trying to defend her 2014 Olympic title. but not so much of Laura.

Remarkably these two athletes have very similar life stories and many events almost bind them together. Lizzy and Laura are only separated in age by three months. Both girls are outstanding athletes in their own right. Lizzy was a heptathlete and Laura a Tetrathlete (riding, shooting, running and swimming). Both girls had a love of horses. Laura Deas has said that competing in eventing competitions actually gave her the courage to take up skeleton. She knew the sport was dangerous but so was eventing and she had to think with split second reactions in both.

Laura Deas and Lizzy Yarnold were both recruited into skeleton by a sporting scheme called Girls4Gold and this gave them their chance. At this point their skeleton careers went at a very different pace. Whilst Lizzy Yarnold  quickly won titles and was in fact only the second athlete in the sport of skeleton to hold European, World Cup and Olympic medals, Laura Deas had failed to make the 2014 team for the Sochi Olympics. Laura carried on working really hard and in her first World Cup season she came a creditable fifth. Deas claims that the disappointment of missing out on a place in Sochi drove her on to achieve better results the following year. Deas won a silver medal in Calgary at only her second World Cup race. At the beginning of the 2015/16 seasons she raced to a gold medal at the same venue in Germany where she had, ironically, failed to qualify for the Sochi Olympics.

Since that season Deas has proved herself to be one of the most consistent athletes on the track, finishing in the top ten of the World Cup races in each campaign and actually collecting five medals along the way. The 2018 Olympics was always going to be tough with Lizzy Yarnold trying to replicate her win in Sochi.

The British team were confident of a good result in the skeleton and the hopes of the nation rested on Lizzy Yarnold. Laura Deas had plans of her own and was determined to win her own battle. Lizzy Yarnold did secure the gold medal but Laura Deas took the bronze medal making it two medals for Great Britain in the women’s skeleton.

What remarkable coincidences. Both women have similar yet different stories. Lizzy Yarnold had the gold medal to spur her on. Laura Deas had disappointment to drive her on. Both girls achieved so much but it does go to show that to be at the top you need something to inspire you and for each of us that inspiration can be so different.

We look forward to following the results of both these girls in the future and wish them both lots of success.

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Last place but still dancing his way into everyone’s hearts…

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!”