Going for gold: Frimpong hopes to punch ticket to 2012 Olympics at Dutch Nationals

From the time Akwasi Frimpong was a small child in Ghana, Africa, he knew what he wanted.

“I remember thinking, ‘I want a gold medal,’” he said. “I wanted to have something to show I was the best.”

Frimpong has come a long way since then. If the UVU sprinter has his way, it will end with him competing with the best in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Earlier this summer, Frimpong earned the chance to punch his ticket when he qualified for the Dutch National Championships with a 100-meter time of 10.45 seconds at the USA Track and Field Championships in Utah. The time ranks him third on the Dutch national team.

Frimpong needs to stay ranked in the top six after nationals to earn a trip to London and represent the Netherlands on the 4×100 meter relay team.

“A lot of people were really surprised, including me,” Frimpong said. “I really wasn’t supposed to improve this much until next year.”

The 5-foot-8-inch sophomore hopes his unexpected improvement continues in the Netherlands, where nationals will run July 30-31. Should he stay relevant to the Dutch national team, he would not only qualify for the Olympics, but for this year’s World Championships in South Korea as well.

The Dutch nationals and the World Championships sandwich the World University Games, which will be held mid-August in China. Frimpong will represent both the Netherlands and Utah Valley University.

“It shows that dreams can become real,” Frimpong said. “If you work hard enough and dream hard enough, anything can happen.”

“It shows that dreams can become real,” Frimpong said. “If you work hard enough and dream hard enough, anything can happen.”

But even all the work and dreaming didn’t seem enough for Frimpong, a Ghana native whose mother eventually afforded his transport to the Netherlands at the age of eight. While the years in Africa were hard (he and his nine siblings slept on the dirt floor of their grandmother’s house), Frimpong’s struggles to in the Netherlands were in many ways more disheartening.

After dominating the junior track and field tournaments, complications with Frimpong’s citizenship arose, denying him the ability to compete in senior tournaments after turning 18. After taking first previous year in the 200 meters in the Dutch Junior Championships, it was a mortal blow to Frimpong’s goal. Devoid of competitive opportunity in his country, he came to the U.S. to run for Utah Valley.

“The chance to keep running and training for my dream here was a great opportunity,” he said. “You always hear about American being a land of opportunity. Here I could condition, train and compete.”

Ironically, Dutch authorities contacted Frimpong just as he was leaving to notify him they had indeed been mistaken, and he was now a legal Dutch citizen.

After redshirting in 2009, Frimpong has quickly developed into a staple for the Wolverines track and field team, competing the 100, 200 and 4×100 meter sprints.

With his own personal finish line in sight, the Ghana native will undoubtedly approach it as he has each time before.

At full speed.

“I want to go out there to show people nothing can hold you back,” Frimpong said. “Only I can hold myself back.”

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