Thursday, Feb. 04, 2010

Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong

Alpine Skiing

The escapades of British secret agent James Bond have captivated many a youngster, but how about inspiring a future Winter Olympian? For Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, it was precisely 007's skill on the slopes that sparked his initial interest, which culminates in the 35-year-old becoming the first Ghanaian to compete in the Winter Olympics. "I know I'm a novelty, that I'm odd. I cannot run away from that," he's said. "But every time I'm on the slope, it's about proving, Look, I actually can ski."

Nkrumah-Acheampong was born in Glasgow, Scotland (his father was studying there at the time) but was raised just outside Accra without ever seeing snow. It wasn't until his relatively recent move to London in 2002 (also to study) that he took it up, while working at an indoor real-snow slope. Three years later, Nkrumah-Acheampong entered his first international race, in France; despite finishing in last place, he persevered. He now has his place in Vancouver on the slalom and giant slalom on merit by collecting enough points during the 2008-09 season and by competing at last year's World Championships. Affectionately known as the Snow Leopard, Nkrumah-Acheampong isn't expected to make an impact on the medal standings — he's a 500-1 shot to win gold, says one bookmaker — but just by taking part, he'll be making his fellow Ghanaians proud.