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02.09.2004 Diaspora News

I'm Ghana go for gold!

By miltonkeynestoday
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It's all downhill for a city man bound for the next Winter Olympics and a place in history by representing his homeland... equatorial Ghana, writes Jon Boyle. Novice Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, of Bradville – dubbed 'The Snow Leopard' by fellow-skiers – will become the first African downhill skier to compete in the games.

The 29-year-old, who only took up the sport two years ago, has already been guaranteed a giant payday from sponsors if he picks up an unlikely Olympic gold.

But his coach, Rob Cuss, who co-trains him at Xscape Snozone in Milton Keynes with former Olympic racer Kiro Kotev, does not hold much hope of Kwame securing Olympic glory.

Rob told the Citizen: "He's only been skiing since he started coming here a couple of years ago, so he's never going to win it, but he won't come last." Kwame is guaranteed a wildcard entry into the games, as he is the only entrant from his parents' country of birth.

But the Scottish-born skier, who lived in Ghana for 10 years from the age of 14, hopes to qualify through the official channels.

Kwame, who works as an assistant ice rink manager, said: "I know people will laugh at me because I am representing a country that has no snow, but I think I will surprise a few people.

"I know winning the 2006 Winter Olympics is a crazy target, but I'm a crazy guy and I'm aiming to do well!"

Kwame, who trains for the downhill and super-G events around three times a week, said: "I've got the Ghanaian government, Xscape and Head sponsoring me so far.

"But this is a good opportunity for small local companies to get some worldwide exposure, as they could have their name on my jacket when I race on Sky Sports in the first qualifier on October 4.

"I want to make clear I'm not just racing to make up the numbers – I want to win!"