Once an illegal immigrant, this Amsterdammer aims for star Olympics role

Photo: Cocoa from Ghana

An Amsterdammer who came to the Netherlands as an illegal immigrant at the age of eight, is now hoping to represent Ghana in the skeleton event at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Akwasi Frimpong, who was raised in the Bijlmer suburb of the Dutch capital, says he is ‘the first black man on the sledge’. He is, according to the Telegraaf, virtually certain of qualifying for the event.

Frimpong was in the Netherlands this week in his role as ambassador for the Right to Play organisation, encouraging children to take up sports. It took him 13 years to get a residency permit and all that time he enjoyed sports, he told the paper.

As a 15-year-old he took up athletics and was supported by the Johan Cruyff Institute. He had successful period as a junior but never fully recovered his form after an serious ankle injury. Frimpong went to study and train further in the US but failed to qualify for the London Olympics.

He then took up the bobsleigh but was dropped from the Dutch team ahead of the Sochi winter games. Two years later he made the switch to the skeleton. Although he represents Ghana, there is a Dutch flag on his sledge and he has Dutch nationality as well.

If he does qualify, he will be the first West African to compete at the Winter Olympics in the skeleton event.

‘I battled for 13 years,’ Frimpong says on his website. ‘The root of your success starts in believing in yourself, then it is nurtured with a positive attitude, hard work and persistence, and that will bring your success to reality.’

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