The sole Ghanaian athlete at the PyeongChang Winter Games has thanked his Korean financial backer and supporters for making his dream of competing at the Olympics come true. Akwasi Frimpong, who is also the only athlete representing Ghana, came in last, at 30th, at the men's skeleton event held at Olympic Sliding Centre in PyeongChang on February 15. South Korea's Yun Sung-bin won gold, becoming the first Asian to win a medal in the history of the Olympic skeleton competition.
The story of Akwasi Frimpong at PyeongChang 2018 was never going to be about the results to much as the inspiration he provided to millions of fans and his hopes for the future. "The people of Korea are amazing. Thanks to Korea's support, I've been able to make my dream become a reality," Frimpong said in a mixed zone interview after the event.
|CEO Kojo Choi (second from left) pose with Akwasi Skeleton Olympian Frimpong (2nd from right) and other Ghanian Olympic Committee.|
He added that “I can`t believe I’m making my first appearance in the Olympic Games. I have been waiting for this moment for 15 years. I am grateful for this track and all. In particular, I have not forgotten to thank my fellow Koreans for their support.”
Frimpong is the only Ghanaian athlete to take part in the PyeongChang Olympics, and has received extensive international media coverage for being the second athlete from Africa to compete in skeleton despite his slim chances of winning a medal at this year’s Winter Games.
Frimpong was born in Ghana, but when he was eight, he moved with his mother to the Netherlands as illegal immigrant in search of a better life. There, Frimpong gravitated towards track and field, where he became a national junior champion in the 200 meters at 17.
In 2008, he was granted official residency in the Netherlands, and hoped to make the 2012 Olympic team on the track -- but an Achilles injury halted those plans. Instead of giving up on his Olympic dreams, Frimpong went for a spot on the Dutch bobsled team, thanks to the movie that has inspired countless bobsledders.
He also once worked as a salesman for vacuum cleaners in the U.S. However, he never gave up his dream of taking part in the Olympics, and in 2015, he began skeleton as Ghana's national representative player.
Akwasi Frimpong's improbable journey to Olympic sledding was made possible due to the donation of a South Korean businessman who is actively involved in business activity in Ghana. Ghana-based alternative payment service company, PaySwitch donated 100,000 Ghana Cedis (25million won / US$23,000) to the Ghana Olympic Committee to help send Frimpong to South Korea. The donation was made by the company's Ghanaian-Korean CEO Kojo Choi, who was brought up in Ghana.
Kojo Choi decided to sponsor this event as he looked like a former dream seeker Frimpong had once before. He also wanted to support PyeongChang, which is thought to be his hometown, and Ghana, where currently he resides. “I know better than anyone else how difficult it is to get on the global stage in Ghana,'' he said. “As a person who has settled in Ghana and is a businessman there, I should have helped him,'' Kojo added.
Born in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, Kojo moved to PyeongChang when he was 11 years old. He then attended Yulgok Middle School in Gangneung and settled down in Ghana with his missionary father when he was 15. He finished his studies at the business school of the University of Ghana.
In 2004, he teamed up with South African mobile carrier MTN to set up a company called Nanatel. Ghana was a land of opportunity for him. Nanatel soon grew into a company with annual sales of 70 billion won. Nanatel is the single largest authorized distributor of MTN Ghana, the country`s No. 1 carrier. The company has 28 directly managed operations across Ghana, operating a mobile phone service, the business of prepaid cards and phones, and an MTN customer service center.
In 2015, it expanded its business range by launching a FinTech company, PaySwitch that provides payment solutions to banks, businesses and consumers. Ghana enjoys an economic growth rate of more than 8% and is a rapidly growing country in Africa and the world, Kojo said. That is why Kojo is writing a book on the theme “Investment and the Future of Businesses in Africa.”
Kim Jung-mi firstname.lastname@example.org
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