He is branded a ‘fake African’ because he does not like spicy food, he jokes, but as one of the few black athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics Ghanaian athlete Akwasi Frimpong is an inspiration to millions.
Getting to his feet from his sledge this morning, Frimpong embraces Jamaican rival Anthony Watson, and brushes shoulders with Nigerian skeleton rider Simidele Adeagbo, as she arrives at the Olympic Sliding Centre for practice.
Each is the first person to represent their country – Ghana, Jamaica and Nigeria – in the terrifying skeleton event.
Akwasi Frimpong carried the flag for Ghana during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea as his countries' first skeleton event athlete
They are also among a handful of ‘Cold Runnings’ black athletes that are competing in the sub-zero conditions of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Each had a different journey to the Games, but they all share a pride in representing their country and a determination to inspire millions ‘back home’ that anything is possible – if you work hard enough.
‘The first time I went down the track I was so scared,’ Akwasi Frimpong told MailOnline as he chatted following his morning practice at the Pyeongchang Sliding Centre.
Frimpong (pictured) talked to MailOnline about his motivations and his experiences at the Winter Olympics, admitting he was terrified the first time on the track
Frimpong was dressed in a bright gold skin-suit with red and green stripes – the colours of the Ghanaian flag
‘It is so fast, your chin is about three inches from the ice and you have no brakes. But when I got to the finish, I just wanted to go back to the start and do it again. I just loved the feeling.’
Frimpong is dressed in a bright gold skin-suit with red and green stripes – the colours of the Ghanaian flag. A roaring lion with its teeth bared cover his helmet.
‘I don’t know if I will win, but I will try my best. I am so proud to represent Ghana, my country, it is a real honour,’ he said.
Frimpong (pictured) is firm friends with a number of other Winter Olympics athletes, including Jamaica's first skeleton event competitor Anthony Watson (right)
‘My family back home tell me that everyone is very proud of me – but I am here to show the kids, everyone, that anything is possible, if you work hard at it.
‘I am the first person from Ghana to take compete in the skeleton. I am not an Olympian yet, but after I compete, I will be.’
Sheltering from the lime-light Akwasi’s ‘close friend’ Anthony Watson too is the first athlete to represent his country in the skeleton event – the head-first decent on a roller-coaster ice-track on a sledge that resembles a thick tea tray.
Watson, a former track athlete, only made it to the Olympics after several countries failed to take their places in the skeleton even and he received a late call.
But he determined to take the unexpected opportunity with both hands and hopefully make his mark.
Anthony Watson (pictured with Frimpong) told the MailOnline: ‘This whole year has been a roller coaster of emotions, it is an absolute honour to make history’
Anthony Watson of Jamaica in action, he is the first athlete to represent Jamaica in the skeleton event
‘This whole year has been a roller coaster of emotions,’ he said. ‘It is an absolute honour to make history.’
Also at the Olympic skeleton track this morning is Nigeria’s Simidele Adeagbo – who along with the country’s women bobsleigh team – have been compared to the legendary 1988 Jamaican team that inspired the movie ‘Cool Runnings’.
Miss Adeagbo told MailOnline: ‘It’s amazing that we [Nigerian Olympic team] are here. We are all so proud to represent our country and to inspire a generation of children to take up sport and compete against the best in the world.’
Pictured is Nigeria's women's bobsleigh and skeleton team members Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, Akuoma Omeoga and Simidele Adeagbo
The Nigerian team were mobbed at the opening ceremony by fellow athletes who wanted to take selfies with the glamourous African women, who wore specially tailored traditional dress.
These out-of-the ordinary athletes have found comfort in their collective difference.
‘We are all good friends,’ Frimpong tells MailOnline.
‘We spend our free time together and we eat together.
‘But they call me a fake African because I don’t like spicy food!’
Frimpong exchanges Olympic pin-badges with Watson as they leave the track for the day.
Jamaica’s bobsleigh driver Jazimine Fenlator-Victorian claims they have the hit Hollywood film to thanks for their place at the Games today.
Simidele Adeagbo said: 'It’s amazing that we [Nigerian Olympic team] are here. We are all so proud to represent our country and to inspire a generation'
‘A lot of people know of bobsleigh because of the movie “Cool Runnings” and Jamaica making that launch in 1988 and really pushing bobsleigh with their popularity,’ she told a press conference in Pyeongchang.
‘But we’re also humbled and honoured to be compared to those men that started and fought so hard to represent Jamaica.
‘In less than six months they competed in the Olympics and although it didn’t have a great result it was more about taking those steps and paving a way and that helped a lot of us to be here today.’
Simidele Adeagbo of Nigeria in action during Women's Skeleton training, she is the first person to represent her country in the event