Person 2 Person: Akwasi Frimpong

Person 2 Person: Akwasi Frimpong (Photo provided by Akwasi Frimpong)

(KUTV) Akwasi Frimpong is a professional athlete who hopes to make history during the upcoming Winter Olympics as the first to represent his country of Ghana in the skeleton.

Frimpong was born in Ghana, but also lived in the Netherlands and here in Utah.

He started out as a track star, then moved to bobsled, and has ended up as a skeleton racer.

Frimpong got into running when a friend showed him a medal he won in a track & field competition. He had not been interested in running, despite attempts by coaches to recruit him.

"I thought running was the punishment of any other sport, so who wants to run?" Frimpong laughed.

But when he saw his friend's medal, he changed his mind.

"I want to know what it feels like to win," he had thought.

And just 18 months later, he won his first gold medal as a junior champion.

In 2012, Frimpong was trying to make it to the Olympic games in London as part of the Dutch 4x100 meter relay team, but he received a tendon injury instead.

He was then recruited to the Dutch bobsled team.

"I made the pre-Olympic team, but we only had one sled that qualified for the Sochi Olympics in 2014, so that was the second time I did not make the Olympics," he said.

So he took a step back from athletics and reflected on what he wanted to do next.

"For three years I just focused on being an entrepreneur and actually using my degree that I have from Utah Valley University," he said.

But, he felt an itch that he had some unfinished business in his life. It was something his wife, Erica, noticed.

"She said, 'I don't want you to be 99 years old and still be whining about your Olympics dreams,'" he smiled.

His wife's support and encouragement has meant a lot to Frimpong. She has been taking care of their eight-month-old daughter, Ashanti, and working extra jobs to support him during training for skeleton.

"Without her support, I wouldn't be able to do the things I'm doing right now, so I'm super grateful for that," he said.

Frimpong's mother was also very encouraging. She is a gospel singer who couldn't read or write.

"Despite that, she was able to be a really successful singer," Frimpong said.

He felt if she could do that, he could do anything.

"It definitely instilled something in me," he said of her example.

Frimpong is excited at the prospect of representing his home country of Ghana this winter.

"I've done a lot in the Netherlands, I've done a lot in the U.S., and I'm 31 years old and it's time to give something back to my country," he said.

Part of that "giving back" is inspiring others to follow their dreams.

"It would mean nothing to me going to the Olympics without actually encouraging and motivating people in my country to actually chase their wildest dreams as well," he said.

Frimpong's dreams have received a lot of support--and not just from family and friends. Utah-based company, doTerra is sponsoring Frimpong and his Olympic efforts.

"I'm just a kid from Ghana dreaming of the Olympics," Frimpong said. "I get a company such as doTerra, which is international, to support me--it shows how giving they are and it shows that it's a company that cares about people and that means so much to me."

And when his Olympic dream is realized, Frimpong anticipates that he'll be nervous.

"But right now, I'm so excited to accomplish that," he said. "To be able to walk into the arena with the flag of my country first of all--that of course is a huge thing, and then just stepping on the ice and going head first for Ghana, for the U.S., for the Netherlands, for all the people out there who are dreaming of something big."

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