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What’s next for Akwasi Frimpong after 2018 Winter Olympics.

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Akwasi Frimpong by the strangest twist of events, decide not to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing (which I strongly doubt), he would have at least, fulfilled a part of what appears to be his two-fold mission.

As a Ghanaian athlete venturing into unfamiliar sports territory, the now world famous Frimpong, went into the just-ended winter games in PyeongChang, South Korea, with a carefully thought out agenda.

“My goal has always been the 2022 Olympics in Beijing where I want to be competitive and win a medal for my country Ghana,” Akwasi said via correspondence with Africanews’ Nii Akrofi Smart-Abbey.

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Born in a West African country which has never had snow and is rather big on football in terms of sports, the 32-year-old athlete knew PyeongChang was going to be a tough call.

But that did not deter him from pursuing a dream he had chased for so long – to become an Olympian. And he became more than just an Olympian. He was one of the few athletes who stole the hearts of millions of spectators.

Akwasi Frimpong, one of very few athletes to have switched from a sport in the summer games to one in the winter qualified for the 2018 Games in January 2018.

“When I heard that I’ve qualified for the 2018 Olympics I was very excited but mostly emotional,” he recalls of the day he got confirmation that he had to green light to compete in the 23rd winter games in South Korea.

“It was about 4am in the morning. Finally my 15-year dream was becoming a reality, something I had waited for, for so many years.”

Akwasi is a highly decorated sprint athlete and former Dutch National junior champion with 8 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze medals from various competitions in the Netherlands and internationally. In spite of these successes, one thing was missing.

“I remember in July 2015, my wife noticed that there was something not going right with me, something wasn’t feeling right,” he said of the restlessness he felt for not having made it as an Olympian.

“She asked me what’s going on. I told her that I still want to be an Olympian and I really want to go after my dreams of being an Olympian and I was afraid and scared that it wasn’t going to happen.
My wife then told me this message.

Akwasi I don’t want you to be 99 years old and still be whining about your Olympic dream so let’s go for it,” and that is how come he ended up in PyeongChang.

Once he overcame the many hurdles (battling for 13 years to regularise his status as a legal migrant in the Netherlands, suffering a career threatening ankle injury among others) from his past, the former Dutch junior champion came up with a strategy for PyeongChang.

For the 2018 Olympics, I set for myself 3 goals. One, to break barriers and to show that people from warm countries and black people can do the sport as well. Number two was to write history for my country Ghana and to be the first ever to go headfirst in the sport of skeleton and to help people in my country to come out of their comfort zone and to dare to dream and number three was to gain the necessary experience for the 2022 Olympics, which I feel I have accomplished all these 3 goals,” he said.

Going by his set targets, it is safe to say he masterfully executed the first two, what remains though is the third target which is to get Ghanaians to dare to dream and step out from their comfort zone.
Akwasi Frimpong is the second Ghanaian ever to compete at the Winter Olympic Games after Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, a UK-born Ghanaian who competed at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

The pioneering Ghanaian winter Olympian, Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, nicknamed the Snow Leopard, was a skier who competed in the men’s slalom (Alpine skiing) while Akwasi Frimpong is a bobsled and skeleton athlete who made his Olympic debut as a skeleton athlete.

In July 2016, Akwasi Frimpong founded the Bobsled and Skeleton Foundation – Ghana, to promote the sport of bobsleigh and skeleton in Ghana.

This was in the same year he switched sports for the second time in his career.

Having taken a break to further his education after an ankle injury threatened his sprint career, Akwasi was in 2013 selected to join the Dutch bobsled team because of his speed and strength but failed to make the team for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

“In 2016, I was recruited by Nicola Minichiello, my former bobsled coach in the Netherlands, who told that she thought I had what was needed to be able to become a good skeleton athlete,” he recalled. The attributes Minichiello referred to were speed and determination. “She told me that I could always learn how to steer. But with my speed I could be competitive.”
And that was the turning point for the man who for has been chasing the Olympic dream for over a decade.

The Bobsled and Skeleton Foundation in Ghana has meanwhile been hard at work with Akwasi himself visiting the country in 2017 to organize clinics for the young talents who had expressed interest in taking up the winter sport.

“My goal is to come to Ghana and seek support from the Ghana Olympic Committee, sport authorities and the Ghana sports ministry to work together and come up with a 4-year plan so in 2022 we have more than one athlete,” says Akwasi.

The 4-year plan targeting the Beijing games means Akwasi and his team at the foundation have their work cut out for them if they are to get more athletes in shape for the 2022 games.
And Akwasi knows this all too well as he had just about 2 years to prepare for the PyeongChang games.

His plan is thus: “Every 3 months, we organize bobsled and skeleton clinics in Ghana with wooden sleds which I pay (for) out of my own pocket to keep introducing the sport”.

Much as he’s investing in making the sport of bobsled and skeleton popular and acceptable to many young Ghanaians in particular, Akwasi says he cannot do it alone.

“To really build a sport program, we will need the support of sponsors and the Ghana sports bodies,” he explained.

His own journey to the Olympic Games had had its fair share of hurdles.

“When I started with the sport of skeleton, I reached out to a lot of companies around the world, none of them really wanted to invest and support me in my journey to the Olympics.”
It was pretty obvious to Akwasi why the corporate organisations were not responding favourably to his appeal for sponsorship.

“I had missed the Olympic Games twice and of course I was an athlete from Ghana trying to do something that nobody from my country has done before,” he explained.

“Therefore I had to go out there and sell vacuum from door to door from 8am to midnight to make enough money to pay for my first season to show to these companies and to show to people around me that I was serious about the sport and I really wanted to accomplish something great.  Grateful that in 2017, 2018 more companies joined me in making history.”

Akwasi indeed made history but it was not limited to Ghana. Two other countries on the continent, Nigeria’s first ever female bobsled team and Eritrea’s first ever Winter Olympic athlete, all contributed to the history making process.

With the new debutants, Africa had its largest representation yet at the 2018 Winter Olympics since it was first represented in the 1960 Winter Games in California, USA by a whites-only team of figure skaters from the then apartheid South Africa.

A record 8 African countries – Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Madagascar, Kenya, Togo, Morocco and Eritrea – competed in the PyeongChang games. The debut appearance of Nigeria and Eritrea increased the tally of African countries to have ever competed at the winter games to 15 from 13, with at least one country from the continent making an appearance each year.

All these gains have been made in spite of the absence of snow conditions in the vast majority of African countries. It is worth noting though that most of the African athletes who have competed at the Winter Games have either been born and live or trained outside the continent.

But with Akwasi Frimpong’s plans of grooming home talents, one can only hope that soon, a new generation of African winter athletes will emerge who will be based on the continent. And with the advancements in technology, it should be possible to create artificial winter conditions for these athletes to thrive.

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Nigeria General Elections postponement not politically influenced – INEC

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Nigeria’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cleared the air, saying its decision to postpone the general elections a few hours to the commencement was not politically influenced.



INEC chairman Mahmoud Yakubu said at a press conference that “The decision has nothing to do with security, nothing to do with political influence and nothing to do with lack of resources.”

The postponement heightens the political tensions in the country, especially between the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party.

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The parties have accused INEC of kowtowing down to the political influence exerted by either party to postpone the elections which ought to begin the presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 16 2019.

PDP and APC faulted INEC’s decision to reschedule the presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 23 while the governorship and state houses of assembly elections will take place on March 9.

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Nigeria: Reactions trail INEC Postponement of 2019 General Elections

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Reactions have trailed the decision of The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to postpone the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier slated for today by a week, citing operational difficulties.



Prior to the postponement of the election, the PDP accused INEC of hoarding the presidential and senatorial elections result sheets for undisclosed reasons.

The party also revealed that its monitoring and intelligence showed that INEC had been distributing sensitive election materials in most states of the federation without the Presidential and Senatorial elections results sheets.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said that the party’s agents were being denied the INEC accreditation and identification cards, ostensibly to shut them out of the election monitoring process and allow the APC a field day to manipulate the process.

According to him, “The development is already heightening tension and suspicion of underhand method by the commission to open the elections for manipulations and allow the APC to enter fictitious results for onward transmission to collation centres.”

The PDP also rejected alleged substitution of the already trained INEC adhoc staff in various states of the federation with members of the APC.
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The party said that PDP would never allow “this unscrupulous attempt at power hijack to stand.”

He stated, “This surreptitious ploy to use APC members as polling staff is a direct template by the APC in collusion with some INEC officials, to rig the elections for the APC.

“This affront to the collective quest by the people for a credible election is akin to sitting our nation on a keg of gunpowder.”

A renowned political analyst in Lagos state, Isaac Abiola on his part expressed displeasure at the postponement, citing the electoral body’s insincerity the worrisome part.

Mr Abiola said “I am disappointed with INEC. It is obvious that they are not sincere with us. INEC till 11:30pm yesterday claimed to have been ready and even tweeted that their situation room was ready. It is not a must to conduct elections when you are not fully ready. But the decision to postponed should have been reached and announced at least 24hrs before election. Why announce 2:30am when people were sleeping. I feel there is an arrangement somewhere.”

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Also Reacting to the postponement, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ahmed Raji, noted that if the postponement was towards achieving a credible, free and acceptable election, it is in order. According to him, if the reason for the postponment is actually on logistics as it is being said, it is okay instead of the Commission to go ahead and conduct an election that would put it to ridicule both locally and internationally.

Raji, while stating that it is high time Nigerians begin to see election as a process, observed that budgetary allocation for the elections came a little bit late.

According to him election materials are not things people just pick from the shop, hence the commission needs adequate time to plan and arrange for some of this materials.

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On the ruling party’s side, Arc Waziri Bulama, the deputy director general of APC presidential campaign council disclosed the party’s readiness for the forthcoming general elections dismissing claims that the APC was looking for a postponement of the polls. Bulama who disclosed this on Wednesday, February 13, stated that the council had carried its campaign all over the country. He said the responsibilities of leaders was to deliver good governance, secure the lives of Nigerians, ensure that they promote justice, rule of law, peace and freedom through their actions.



Meanwhile, the opposition People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar said the postponement of the general election by Independent National Electoral Commission is “obviously a case of the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob.”

“The Buhari administration has had more than enough time and money to prepare for these elections and the Nigerian people were poised and ready to perform their civic responsibility by voting in the elections earlier scheduled for Saturday, 16 February, 2019,” Atiku said in a stateemnt on Saturday.

“By instigating this postponement, the Buhari administration hopes to disenfranchise the Nigerian electorate in order to ensure that turn out is low on the rescheduled date,” he added.

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