Indiana Daily Student

Bringing Ghana to Vancouver

Today, champions of snow and ice from around the globe will descend on Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Although the Olympic Games are billed as the embodiment of global diversity, many warm-weather countries have no winter athletes to offer.

In Africa and South America, participation in the Winter Olympics is rare, and success is even rarer. Enter Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, the inexperienced underdog whose story is sure to turn skeptics into fans.

Nkrumah-Acheampong is the first athlete from Ghana ever to qualify for the Winter Olympics and will participate in the slalom and giant slalom skiing events in Vancouver.

Born in Scotland while his father was a teacher at the University of Glasgow, Nkrumah-Acheampong was raised in Ghana without ever seeing snow except on television.

Not until 2002, when he was a student working at an indoor ski center in England, did he have his first experience with snow. He made his professional debut in 2004 and earned the nickname the “Snow Leopard,” and soon set his sights on the world stage of the Olympic Games.

By narrowly earning the 140 points needed to qualify for the Olympics, the Snow Leopard will be on a mission to prove that even those from tropical climates can compete in the Winter Olympics. So how does he rate his chances?

“Very far,” he told BBC News, adding that his hope is “to ski very well and prove to people that I deserve to be on the hill, with the other top world-class athletes.”

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