Ghana ready to slalom

26th February 2010, by Chris Gill

Kwame in action on real snow

Kwame in action on real snow

When the men’s Olympic slalom races kick off on Saturday, among them will be one man fulfilling an extraordinary dream – Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, representing Ghana. And what an amazing tale of determination and skill …

Nkrumah-Acheampong (35), or ‘Snow Leopard’ as he prefers to be called, is making his first appearance at a Winter Olympic Games having achieved a remarkable goal in his devotion to the sport. What’s more, he learnt to ski just five years ago and hails from a ‘snowless’ country.

Who is the ‘Snow Leopard’?

The 35-year-old was born in Glasgow but grew up in Ghana, far removed from the world of snow. But watching a ski film touched an inner belief that he would learn to ski one day. A job in the UK in 2002 set the pace. Kwame took up skiing following his job experiences at the Milton Keynes indoor centre, and hasn’t looked back.

Remarkable progress

During the next few years, the Ghanian pursued his passion with absolute determination, refusing to allow any funding disadvantages to stop him in the pursuit to ski – and to compete. He competed in his first race in 2005, following that with endless hours of coaching and winters in the mountains to reach Olympic standard. Yet, Kwame has only ever taken part in two World Ski Championships – in giant slalom and slalom.

His ambition?

Not to come last … The Ghanian takes his skiing very seriously and any comparisons to, say, Eddie the Eagle are shrugged off. Kwame is at the Olympics to ski his best, and to do it seriously. His plans for the years ahead are to keep skiing and to develop opportunities for children – he already monitors a ski programme in Ghana (a grass slope, not snow of course).

The ‘Snow Leopard’ will make his Olympic debut on the Whistler course from 6pm (GMT) on Saturday 27 February. Before that, you can catch up with the women’s event on Friday.

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