Former Utah Valley University track and field sprinter and Dutch-Ghanaian skeleton athlete Akwasi Frimpong has earned himself a spot in the 2018 Winter Olympics, becoming the first male West-African skeleton athlete to compete in the Winter Olympics.
A 2013 graduate of UVU, Frimpong will represent Ghana in the skeleton in the PyeongChang Winter Games held from Feb. 9-25. Ghana's first-ever athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics, Frimpong will begin competition in the male skeleton events set to start on Feb. 15.
"To me, the Olympic Games are about giving people like myself the opportunity to go against the best in the world," said Frimpong. "I'm grateful to have Cocoa from Ghana step into my life as an athlete when it was needed the most. Their support has definitely helped me focus on qualifying for the Games and becoming a better skeleton athlete. I'm now ready to represent Ghana for the first time in history in the skeleton event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games."
On the road to the Winter Olympics, Frimpong can count on both Dutch and Ghanaian support in the form of Cocoa from Ghana – a Dutch initiative that aims to raise awareness of Ghanaian cocoa. Cocoa from Ghana recently entered into a sponsorship agreement with Frimpong.
"We are incredibly proud that Akwasi has qualified for the Winter Olympics," said Joost Bellart, spokesperson for Cocoa from Ghana. "He is a phenomenal athlete with the willpower to succeed even in the face of setbacks."
As a sprinter, Frimpong became the Dutch National Junior Champion and won four bronze, four silver, and eight gold medals at several national and international sporting events. After suffering an injury, Frimpong began focusing on bobsledding. He made his debut as a skeleton athlete in 2016 and is now going to the Olympic Games.
Frimpong joins Chris Fogt as one of two former Utah Valley student-athletes heading to PyeongChang, South Korea, for this year's Winter Games.
"I'm excited for him to go to the Games," said UVU track and field head coach Scott Houle, who coached Frimpong throughout his collegiate career. "Adding Chris [Fogt] and Akwasi [Frimpong] to the list of our former athletes continuing to have success in Winter Olympic sports, along with Noelle [Pikus-Pace] in the past, is great for our program. More importantly, it is a great cause for celebration for all of UVU athletics."
About Akwasi Frimpong
Born on 11 February 1986 in Ghana
Moved to the Netherlands at the age of eight
Lived in Amsterdam's Bijlmer district
Trained at the Johan Cruyff Academy to hone his sprinting skills
Obtained a residence permit thanks in part to the efforts of former Dutch football player Johan Cruijff
Now lives in the United States, where he sold vacuum cleaners to help finance his Olympic dream