Make note of the name Akwasi Frimpong, because if he has anything to say about it, the name will soon be recognized worldwide.
A junior studying business management, Frimpong has already established himself among runners, shattering school records as well as winning multiple gold medals in Dutch races. He has even earned the nickname “GoldenSprint” for his achievements (as well as his black and gold tiger-striped running spikes).
Frimpong is training for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, planning to run for the Dutch national team, where he hopes to extend his golden sprint even further by bringing home the gold medal for the land he calls his home.
It wasn’t always like that, though. Up until 2007, Frimpong wasn’t able to legally call the Netherlands home. Born in Ghana in the late ‘80s, Akwasi lived and was raised by his grandmother there for the first years of his life. When he was eight years old, his mother, a popular gospel artist, returned to Ghana to take Akwasi and his brother, Kofi, to live with her in the Netherlands. By that time, she was already a citizen of the country. Her sons were not.
Thus began the thirteen-year struggle for citizenship, as followed in the documentary The Rabbit Theory: A Documentary About GoldenSprint, by Dutch filmmakers Rinske Bosch and Nicole Batteke. The subtitled film begins in 2003, and follows Akwasi for five years in the Netherlands, trying to balance the fight for residency with properly training to become a world-class athlete, along with all the normal struggles that young adults deal with, including aspiring to be a good role model and student.
It’s more than just a film about an athlete or a film about citizenship. It follows his relationships with his family, his coach and his girlfriend and makes him a protagonist worth rooting for. Through all the struggles and all the tears, Frimpong keeps his head held high and attitude positive.
Of course, the obvious tension and stress are present in the film. One can’t help but feel anxiety for Frimpong as he accepts that, because of his illegal status, his life’s dream to represent the Netherlands in the Olympics could be thwarted if he is forced to leave the country he loves so much.
At one point in the film when he is at a race, he describes feeling like a rabbit in a stadium surrounded by lions, needing to be astonishing to survive. It seems as if his entire life, at one point or another, can be summed up by this analogy. With Akwasi being such a likeable person, having a quick, friendly smile and warm caring heart, it’s difficult to not shed a tear or two while watching him finally achieve his goal of becoming a legal citizen.
The documentary premiered in Europe September of this year and has been submitted to festivals all over the world. That includes Sundance Film Festival, held in Park City each January. If it is successful, there is a chance the story will be made into a Hollywood feature film, similar to Remember the Titans. His story of faith, determination, discipline and perseverance has the power to inspire anyone, and is guaranteed to make you believe in the goodness of people, despite all odds.
Yes, Akwasi Frimpong will be a household name. It is only a matter of time.