“Broken, bummed, frustrated, angry.” It is clear how 35-year-old Ghanaian Akwasi Frimpong, who grew up in the Netherlands, feels after his Olympic dream has turned into a nightmare due to a corona infection. “But right now I’m mainly concerned with recovering and staying healthy,” he adds right away.
Frimpong has had a bumpy journey of almost four years and was preparing for the Skeleton World Cup competitions in Altenberg, Germany to qualify for the Games in Beijing, until the bad news came in on Wednesday: a positive corona test. Due to the quarantine rules in Germany, he will miss the crucial games that will be played next week.
It was far from certain that Frimpong would qualify, but he felt strong and his last appearance in Lake Placid gave the citizen courage. It all doesn’t matter anymore. “I can swear and be angry, I am behind the scenes too, but at the end of the day you have to stay positive”.
Frimpong gets that positivity from family. “The support from my wife and daughter is great. I want to see them as soon as possible.”
That could be on January 3, provided he tests negative. “It’s going in the right direction.” Shortly after his positive test, Frimpong suffered from chills, coughing fits. high fever and night sweats.
The athlete expects the corona infection to immediately herald the end of his turbulent sports career. His partner has had to make many sacrifices and Frimpong has two young children.
Frimpong was born in Ghana and moved to the Bijlmer at the age of eight. His sprint talent stood out on the Kraaiennest athletics track and under the guidance of the athlete Sammy Monsels he achieved national successes at a young age. He then received a scholarship to the University of Utah and ended up in the pre-selection of the Dutch relay team (4×100 meters) for the Olympic Games in London in 2012. Due to a serious injury, he was unable to participate.
He was then asked by Ivo de Bruin’s bobsleigh team to participate as an inhibitor. He also failed to make it to the Sochi (2014) Games in bobsleigh.
However, the Olympic dream remained alive. In America Frimpong found the love of his life and in Salt Lake City he decided to focus on skeleton. He made his appearance for Ghana in 2018 at the Games in Pyeongchang. On behalf of that country, he finished thirtieth and last.
Frimpong wanted more. He was going to focus on the 2022 Games. A tough job, because he had lost all his sponsors after his debut at the Games. Unable to pay his American coach Zach Lund anymore, he took out a loan and looked for additional funds. He has also been plagued by injuries in recent years.
Yet he kept putting money and energy into that one goal. The fact that Ghana is not a winter sports country made his mission extra difficult. “You are lagging behind in terms of financing, program and material. That is why you are always busy with side issues.” Frimpong was therefore also without a coach in Germany when disaster struck.
Have the past four years been all for nothing? “I hope not. I think I have been able to inspire people. ‘Hope of a billion’ was his motto for a reason. “I wanted to show that African athletes could make it to the Winter Games through perseverance.”