For athletes, the only thing better than being an Olympian is being an Olympian twice. One Utah man [of Ghanaian origin] hopes to do just that in Beijing next year, even though he feels the weight of an entire continent on his shoulders.
He could have taken it easy. He could have said it was too rainy and cold, however, Akwasi Frimpong knew somewhere else in the world, his competitors haven’t made excuses.
“I have to dig really deep and I have to work extra hard,” he said. “So, I’m setting the tone every single day like it’s a new day.”
It doesn’t matter if it’s cold or raining, @FrimpongAkwasi is training hard to make the @Beijing2022 Olympics. He competed in skeleton in the 2018 Games. Now, he wants to become the first African ever to medal in a Winter Olympics. We’re doing a story with him for @KSL5TV at 6. pic.twitter.com/25Ab0MDtXO— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) April 21, 2021
He has done this nearly every day because he’s hoping to make the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, even though he already competed as a skeleton racer in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“It’s actually more fun now because I’m getting better in the sport. I’m learning more, and when you’re hitting less walls and you’re going more straight, it becomes more fun,” said Frimpong with a laugh.
He trains often at the Kearns High School track where his warm-up routines are more intense than many people’s regular workouts.
Frimpong then runs with his skeleton sled while practicing jumping on it as if he were on ice.
He has spent the past few months training with the Russian Skeleton Olympic Team in Europe, since many of North America’s sliding tracks have been closed due to COVID-19 concerns.
Since 2018, his world ranking has continued to improve.
“I have to work for it. I have to work extremely hard for it,” he said. “But I’m doing really well.”
Frimpong graduated from Utah Valley University and has lived in Utah for years, but he represents his home country of Ghana.
He’s planned to become the first African to ever medal in a Winter Olympic Games. He called it the hope of a billion.
“There’s a lot of people counting on me — 1.2 billion people in Africa and around the world, too, so it’s been fun,” he said.
If that’s not motivation enough, Frimpong said he’s also doing all of this to be an example to others who’ve been told they can’t do something, no matter what it is.
“I do it for everybody, not only just Africans, but also people all over the world, underdogs that have dreams. People who were told their dreams are unattainable or it’s not possible. I like to be that example,” said Frimpong.
He expressed his gratitude to Utahns who have pretty much adopted him as one of their own, even if he does represent another country in the Olympics.
“It means a lot,” he said. “To see so many people support a kid from Ghana, it shows the humanity. It shows how people are proud of each other, how people are supportive of each other. We live in a world where sometimes we forget that.”
There is no doubt Frimpong hasn’t forgotten that.
No matter how rainy or cold it is, or even if his wife gave birth to their second daughter just the day before, he’s training.
“Number one supporter. She’s really the MVP, basically,” said Frimpong of his wife. “I’m very blessed to have her in my life, to have such a great woman who is so supportive.”
That support helped him focus on his training.
The hope of a billion has less than a year to go until the Beijing Games.