Sept. 26, 2013
-Written by Karissa Neely, Freelance Public Relations Writer
Former Utah Valley University track & field athlete Akwasi Frimpong slid just a bit closer to his Olympic dreams this week. In Oberhof, Germany, he competed against other bobsled pushers from the Netherlands, putting his muscle and his determination into every test.
His first day there, Sept. 17, was a struggle. He was the rookie, fighting for a spot against many other more seasoned hopefuls. "Day one was good," he said. "But it was not good enough to get noticed. I did really well, but the rest were better."
He finished 7th that day - good, but not high enough to make it to an Olympic four-man bobsled spot. The next day he competed for a two-man bobsled spot. He was at an immediate disadvantage, because he was one of the lightest men out there. To level the playing field, all pushers lighter than the heaviest competitor had to add weight to their sled. Thus, Frimpong pushed an extra 25 pounds. He knew he was against some great athletes, many of whom were pushing less weight than him.
"I knew if I wanted to get noticed and possibly selected, I had to give my all and surprise myself and the Dutch team," Frimpong said. "Which I did. While most athletes pushed on average about five hundredths slower than the first day with a lighter sled, I stayed consistent. I had a faster velocity than I did the day before and pushed three hundredths faster than my first day." He didn't realize it, but he'd placed 4th. "I was not paying attention at the ranking at all, I just focused on getting better at each push," he said.
The next day, when he found out he'd made the Dutch Pre-Olympic two-man bobsled team, he was excited, elated, relieved, amazed, and more. "There is still a lot of work to do as a team, and I'm ready to work and be an asset in the Olympic bobsled team, and hopefully make it together with the team to Sochi," he said.
What's next? First, a training camp in La Plange, France, in October. Then in November, the first part of the competitive season starts, with stops in Calgary, Park City, and Lake Placid. After that, there will be a second round of Olympic team trials in Germany for the Dutch brakeman athletes that have made it in the Pre-Olympic team.
"I have to keep training hard, stay healthy, humble and sharp for the battle is not over yet," he said. "After this, the second half of the season will be in Europe and then the Olympics in Sochi in February 2014. I know one thing for sure, if I get to go to the games, I'm going with the best bobsled athletes the Dutch team has, and it is an honor and a privilege."
Road to History
If Frimpong races with the Dutch Bobsled Team in the 2014 Olympics, he will be the first-ever Ghanaian born to do so. Plus, as a multinational athlete, he will represent Ghana, the Netherlands, and the USA.