The South Korean city of PyeongChang is ready to welcome athletes from around the world for the major international sporting event known as the Winter Olympics. Even though news preceding the opening day ceremony have mostly centered on the participation of North Korean athletes and the reinstatement of Russian competitors previously banned for doping violations, an emerging topic of interest is related to African athletes and other competitors whose African roots make them a bit unusual for this event.
Only a handful of African nations have participated in the Winter Olympics, and they have yet to appear on the medal tables. Likewise, African American and Afro Caribbean athletes have not managed to collect a lot of Winter Olympics hardware; however, that may change over the next few weeks in PyeongChang. Here are some athletes worth keeping an eye on:
Akwasi Frimpong – Ghana
This natural-born sprinter was just eight years old when he moved to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, where he became interested in track events as well as sledding. The personal history of Frimpong is quite moving; he endured the reality of being raised as an illegal immigrant until Dutch trainers from the Johan Cruyff Institute encouraged him to pursue athletics. Frimpong decided to represent his native Ghana in the skeleton event, where he faces very strong competition from British racers, although he is confident that he will reach the podium.
Elana Meyers Taylor – United States
This African American member of the U.S. bobsled team has already earned two Olympic medals and hopes to bring back even more this time around.
Shannon-Ogbani Abeda – Eritrea
Born and raised in Canada, this skier decided to represent his parents’ homeland by qualifying for the slalom event as the fist Eritrean winter Olympian. Abeda has an advantage over other athletes since he is a highly technical skier who capitalizes on the mistakes of competitors.
Women’s Bobsled Team – Nigeria
Akuoma Omeoga, Seun Adigun and Ngozi Onwumere are three fashionable American women born to Nigerian parents whose qualifying run to compete as a Winter Olympics bobsled team has been highlighted by sporting goods brands such as Under Armour. These three athletes recognize that it will take considerable effort to bring back hardware from PyeongChang, but they are determined to give their best effort.
Erin Jackson – United States
As the first African American female speed skater to qualify for the Winter Olympics, Jackson could be a great surprise due to her in-line skating background and the amazing power she has shown on the ice track.