Akwasi Frimpong

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Akwasi Frimpong Akwasi Frimpong (born February 11, 1986)[1] is a Dutch-Ghanaian sprinter, bobsledder, and skeleton athlete who has won 4 bronze, 4 silver, and 8 gold medals in various national and international sport events.[2] The athlete, who was raised in Ghana, moved to the Netherlands at the age of 8 and started running when he was 15. In 2003, he became the Dutch National Junior Champion in the 200 meter sprints, which earned him the nickname ‘GoldenSprint.’[3] The athlete is now set to make an appearance in the 2022 winter Olympics and become the first Ghanaian skeleton athlete to participate in the prestigious sports event.

Biography[edit | hide all | hide | edit source]

Childhood[edit | hide | edit source]

Frimpong spent his first eight years in a small one-room home in the village of Kumasi, Ghana. His grandmother Minka raised him and nine other grandchildren. Though they all slept on the ground and his grandmother struggled to feed that many mouths, Frimpong remembers those years with fondness. At the age of eight, Frimpong joined his mother Esther Amoako, a gospel singer, in the Netherlands. At that time, he was not a legal immigrant to the Netherlands, but his family worked on obtaining his Dutch residence permit. The process took 13 more years, and a monumental effort by his many supporters. He finally earned his residency permit in 2007, and gained Dutch nationality in 2008. When ready to attend high school, with his illegal status, the only school that gave him a high school education chance was the Johan Cruyff College, a school that offers athletes an opportunity to balance sport with vocational education. During this period, he faced several challenges, which Frimpong describes as: “As an illegal immigrant, I had to face different challenges. I was unhappy. I was scared and I didn’t know what to do. I felt abused, I felt out casted.”[4] It was only after what Frimpong describes as ‘monumental effort’, that the athlete and his parents were able to acquire a legal residence permit in the Netherlands in 2007 and Dutch nationality in 2008.

Running[edit | hide | edit source]

Frimpong began sprinting at 15 years old, when a friend showed him a medal he had won in a race. Frimpong wanted one, so, in 2001, he started running under former Olympian Sammy Monsels. After just two years of hard work and intense training, Frimpong won the title of Dutch junior champion in the 200-meter sprint. This was the same achievement that earned him the nickname ‘GoldenSprint’. By 2003, he was the earning the nickname GoldenSprint and he aspired to compete at the Olympic Games. To honor Frimpong's work, Monsels gave him his golden track shoes at this time.[5]

Injury and Athletic Scholarship to Utah Valley University[edit | hide | edit source]

Immediately after his first national win, Frimpong suffered a severe ankle injury that derailed his pursuit of excellence. This was the time when he was still an undocumented immigrant; therefore, many doctors refused to provide him medical treatment and physiotherapy. However, a physiotherapist named Michael Davidson, who had been following the story of this budding athlete, decided to treat him against a token fee of one euro only. Despite the compassionate and professional care provided by Michael, it took Akwasi three years before he could completely recover from the injury and started running again.

He met some students who had studied in America and heard about running opportunities there. In order to utilize the time when he was unable to participate in athletic competitions, Akwasi applied to several colleges in America. One of the universities he sent his athletic profile to was Utah Valley University. He was offered an athletic scholarship.

Rise to Prominence[edit | hide | edit source]

Frimpong started at UVU in 2008 and ran for the college team in 100 meters, 200 m and the 4×100-meter relay. In May 2010, Frimpong helped the relay team break the school record during the 2010 Great West Conference Championships, with a time of 41.05 seconds. In 2011, he helped UVU 4 × 400 m relay team win a gold medal and broke the meet record during the Great West indoor Championships held at the Armory indoor track in New York City. Individually, his times recorded for the university were 6.99 seconds in the 60-meter dash, 10.71 in the 100 m and 21.93 over 200 m.[6] He graduated from Utah Valley University (UVU) with honors in marketing and a minor in business management in 2013.[6]

After college, Frimpong recorded 6.85 seconds in the 60-meter dash, 10.45 seconds in the 100 meters, and 21.88 seconds in 200 meters race.[7]

Frimpong aimed to represent the Netherlands at the 2012 Summer Olympics but was a long way from the Olympic qualifying standards of 10.24 for the 100 m and 20.65 seconds for the 200 m. He was only managing eleven seconds after his injury but improved to 10.45 seconds in 2011.[8] In 2010, he was ranked 70 among Dutch sprinters but managed third in the yearly rankings in 2011. He competed at the 2011 Universiade but was again over eleven seconds for the 100 m – his time of 11.04 seconds was one hundredth faster than the women's 100 m Universiade winner Carrie Russell.[9] He was not selected for the relay team for the 2011 World Championships in Athletics as he was not among the top six runners that year and had suffered an achilles injury.[10]

Bobsledding[edit | hide | edit source]

Akwasi was courted by the Dutch bobsled Olympic team, training for about five days at the push track in Harderwijk, the Netherlands. A push track is basically a bobsled on wheels that runs down a small hill on rails on dry land.

The Dutch team came up to Park City, Utah during November, the team tried out Frimpong as the brakeman for the four-man World Cup Race in Park City. Pushing off the Dutch "B" team, Frimpong, Ivo de Bruin, Thierry Kruithoff and Bror van der Zijde were ranked 21st out of 26 teams.[11] In September 2013, Frimpong was invited to the Dutch Pre-Olympic Team trials. After two days push off in Oberhof, Germany he was selected among seven other brakemen. His next performance came at the 2013 World Cup Race in Park City where he was in the two-man bob with de Bruin, but after finishing second the team were disqualified as their sled was made of non-FIBT-permitted materials. After this, de Bruin chose another brakeman, Yannick Greiner.[12][13] Neither Frimpong nor De Bruin made the Dutch team for the 2014 Winter Olympics.[14]

Olympic Skeleton Goals[edit | hide | edit source]

Akwasi Frimpong is now set to make an appearance at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and represent his native country Ghana for the first time in skeleton in Olympic Games.

Frimpong will compete in the World Championship Skeleton event in Germany in February 2017.[15]

Achievements[edit | hide | edit source]

- 2013 Silver in the 2 man bobsled Americans Cup in Park City

- 2012 Gold GoldenSprint Challenge Invitational (USATF sanctioned) Indoor, 60m

- 2012 Gold GoldenSprint Challenge Invitational (USATF sanctioned) Indoor, 200m

- 2011 Gold USA Track and Field Association Championships outdoor Utah (Open) 200m

- 2011 Silver USA Track and Field Association Championships outdoor Utah (Open) 100m

- 2011 Gold Great West Championships relay indoor (USA) 4 X 400m

- 2010 Silver Great West Championships relay (USA) 4 X 100m

- 2007 Bronze NSK (Dutch students) Outdoor, 100m

- 2007 Gold NK (Dutch junior championships) Outdoor relay 4 X 200m

- 2007 Gold NK (Dutch junior championships) Outdoor relay 10 X 100m

- 2007 Bronze NK (Dutch junior championships) Outdoor relay 4 X 100m

- 2005 Bronze NK (Dutch junior championships) Outdoor relay 4 X 100m

- 2003 Gold NK (Dutch junior championships) Outdoor, 200m

- 2003 Gold ZHK (South Holland junior championships) Outdoor, 100m

- 2003 Bronze NK (Dutch junior championships) Indoor, 60m

- 2003 Silver NK (Dutch junior championships) Outdoor relay 4 X 200m

Recognition and Public Appearances[edit | hide | edit source]

Akwasi Frimpong is considered an athlete with high media value. His achievements have been recognized and featured by print and electronic media. Some of the newspapers that have written on the achievements of Frimpong include EuroSport, Yahoo, Daily Herald, Het Parool, Metro, De Volkskrant, AlgemeenDagblad, De Telegraaf, NRC Handelsblad, and NU Sport. In the U.S., an athletic race was organized in honor of him titled The GoldenSprint Challenge.

He was nominated for the "Amsterdammer of the Year" award, but ultimately did not win.[16]

Frimpong was honored in late 2012 with a sculpture of his face and head, as part of the “Porem van Mokum,” an art series honoring those who reflect the spirit of Amsterdam. The project encompasses 365 portraits created by 16 professional sculptors. Frimpong's portrait was sculpted by Saskia de Rooy, who also founded the project.”[17]

Because of his inspirational story and his commanding presence, Akwasi Frimpong has been invited to public speaking events. A video of Akwasi Frimpong delivering a motivational speech to the Utah Valley University has received over 2,000 hits on YouTube. An article was also published by UVU Review in 2011 appraising the struggles of Akwasi as a refugee in the Netherlands.[18] In addition to this, Discovery Academy, which is a boarding school for troubled teens in Utah, USA, also arranged a screening of the documentary film titled ‘The Rabbit Theory’.[19] The film is based on the struggles of Akwasi Frimpong as an illegal immigrant in the Netherlands.

Rabbit Theory[edit | hide | edit source]

The documentary film, The Rabbit Theory, by Dutch filmmakers Rinske Bosch and Nicole Batteke, begins in 2003, and follows Frimpong for five years in the Netherlands. After winning the Dutch National Junior Championship in 2003 at the age of 17, Frimpong was seen as the newest sprinting talent from the Bijlmer, Amsterdam. Frimpong trained each night under Subwaystation Kraaiennest with former Olympian Sammy Monsels, and the film follows his journey of training for the Olympics, while fighting for Dutch residency.

It’s more than just a film about an athlete or a film about citizenship. At one point in the film when he is at a race, he describes feeling like a rabbit in a stadium surrounded by lions, needing to be astonishing just to survive. His entire life can be summed up by this analogy. The documentary premiered in Europe in September 2010 and has been submitted to international festivals.

Golden Events Management[edit | hide | edit source]

At the age of 26, Frimpong opened Golden Events Management, an events planning and branding management organization located in Orem, Utah. He is currently the founder and CEO, and has gathered employees with a diverse skillset. Their combined international background and experiences make them unique in the industry. Golden Events Management specializes in events planning, branding management, social media coordination, direct sales, athlete and artist representation, and speed and power training.[20]

GoldenSprint Challenge[edit | hide | edit source]

Started in 2012 by Frimpong, the GoldenSprint Challenge is a USATF-sanctioned meet, aimed at testing and promoting local athletes. Using the Utah Olympic Oval, athletes compete in sprint events, with the fastest runner garnering the Golden Spikes Trophy. Frimpong has said he started this event to promote indoor sprinting and training in Utah.[21]

Bobsled and Skeleton Federation Ghana[edit | hide | edit source]

Bobsled and Skeletal Federation Ghana (BSF-Ghana) is the most recent startup of Akwasi Frimpong.[22] Founded on July 5, 2016, the federation directs any kind of activity related to the practice of Skeleton and Bobsleigh in Ghana. The mission of BSF-Ghana is to maintain friendly relations among its members and national and international stakeholders. In addition to this, the federation also works to defend the sporting interests of its members and support them in representing their interests to the local and international authorities.

Sponsorships[edit | hide | edit source]

Frimpong has worked in partnership with Nike, Kalenji, and Eurotech Group. He was also the face of Acai Action, a non-carbonated energy drink produced by Neways.

References[edit | hide | edit source]

  1. Akwasi Frimpong, Athlete Profile, International Association of Athletics Federation, https://www.iaaf.org/athletes/netherlands/akwasi-frimpong-271931#progression
  2. Akwasi Frimpong, Achievements, http://www.akwasi-frimpong.com/achievements/
  3. Sprinting towards the gold, The Review, http://www.uvureview.com/opinions/sprinting-towards-the-gold/
  4. The Long Distance Sprinter — Akwasi Frimpong’s Olympic Journey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuV-3EiMxYg
  5. GoldenSprint Challenge, https://goldensprintchallenge.com/about/
  6. 6.0 6.1 Akwasi Frimpong. Wolverine Green. Retrieved on 2014-03-02.
  7. Akwasi Frimpong, Athlete Profile, http://www.all-athletics.com/node/409552
  8. Akwasi Frimpong. IAAF. Retrieved on 2014-03-02.
  9. van Kuijen, Hans (2011-08-22). World University Games conclude in Shenzhen – Wrap report. IAAF. Retrieved on 2011-09-13.
  10. ^
  11. Akwasi Frimpong. FIBT. Retrieved on 2014-03-02.
  12. De échte start van het seizoen. Bobteam de Bruin (2013-12-03). Retrieved on 2014-03-02.
  13. NAC 2 Men Bob Park City 21.11.2013 22:00h Results. FIBT. Retrieved on 2014-03-02.
  14. Team Netherlands. Sochi2014. Retrieved on 2014-03-02.
  15. UVU article on Frimpong's competition
  16. Ghanaian Dutch nominated for ‘Amsterdammer of the Year’….Akwasi Frimpong knocks at door to ‘Hall of Fame’. Modern Ghana. Retrieved on 2014-03-02.
  17. ^
  18. Outcasts tell their stories, The Review
  19. The Rabbit Shares How to Leap, Akwasi Frimpong http://www.akwasi-frimpong.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/akwasi_speech_at_discovery_academy_in-provo_usa_therabbitshareshowtoleap_july20111.pdf
  20. ^
  21. press release from the goldensprint challenge. http://ut.milesplit.com/articles/101005/press-release-from-the-golden-sprint-challenge
  22. BSF-Ghana, Team Captain. http://www.bsfghana.com/about-us/

External links[edit | hide | edit source]