'I can motivate kids in Ghana to chase their dreams' — Akwasi Frimpong

Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT) February 8, 2018

(CNN)Growing up in a one-room home in Ghana, Akwasi Frimpong never envisaged he would one day race down a South Korean mountain with his chin resting three inches above the ice.

Yet in a freezing Pyeongchang, South Korea, Frimpong will reach speeds of 90mph as his country's first skeleton athlete in the history of the Winter Olympics.
The 31-year-old's remarkable journey has taken him from a single five-by-four meter room in Kumasi, Ghana's second most populous city, to a globe-trotting life of travel and adventure as an international sportsman.
It's been a journey fraught with setbacks. Along the way, Frimpong has been a 200m sprinter, a bobsled brakeman, a student and an entrepreneur -- but always a dreamer that refuses to accept defeat.
"I battled for 13 years," Frimpong tells CNN Sport. "Giving up was an option, but being patient and persistent nurtured the champion from within. Me going to the Games is a message to anyone out there that is dreaming of something big."

Frimpong's secret

Aged eight, Frimpong followed his mother to the Netherlands in pursuit of a better future, withdrawing books from the local library to learn Dutch. Adapting to his new surroundings proved very difficult.
"I had never seen a white person in my life, and I was not in my normal comfort zone with friends and family in Ghana," he says.

I had never seen a white person

He discovered a talent for sprinting at high school in the summer of 2001 and was quickly taken under the wing of two-time Surinamese Olympian turned athletics coach, Sammy Monsels.
He thrived, and two years later became the Dutch junior 200m champion.
"Within 18 months, not only was I the best in my city, but I was the best in my country and won my first gold medal," says Frimpong. "From then on, I knew anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself and you want it bad enough."