A new season for Ghana’s first Skeleton Olympian, Akwasi Frimpong, means a new racing suit, a new helmet and a new perspective.
But don’t think Akwasi has forgotten, for one moment, where he came from, or what he’s chasing.
Akwasi’s racing suit for the 2018 Olympic Games featured a rabbit escaping the jaws of a predator in the form of a lion. The symbolism recognized his dedication and determination to the sport, along with his optimism and unstoppable positive energy.
The phenomenon of the Black Panther became a theme for Matt Millette, as he designed Akwasi’s new racing suit, as he incorporated Akwasi’s phenomenal story of becoming just Ghana’s second winter Olympian.
“After researching Ghanaian culture, motifs and tribal markings we discovered elements that we could modify and utilize to embed meaning, therefore power, into the new suit design,” Millette said. “Let’s start with the base layer of the suit, the underlying armor that all other pieces are built upon.”
Millette used patterns similar to those found on homes in Ghana as a symbol to show that comes from a strong foundation.
The design does not mean Millette or Akwasi are moving on from the survival mentality of being the prey among predators. In fact, the new suit indicates the rabbit is no longer running away.
“If you move to the headpiece of the skin suit you will find a peculiar design running from the forehead to the back of the neck,” Millette said. “This is a tribute to the concept of the rabbit and lion.
At first glance you see a predator’s head, in this case a panther, but if you look closer, you see the ears of the rabbit extending up. The prey camouflaged as predator. With the fighting spirit just as fearsome as the predator’s, escaping the odds stacked against it, the rabbit now competes among the top.”
Which is where Akwasi Frimpong expects to be when it’s time to compete in Beijing 2022.
It’s the Hope of a Billion underdogs, not just in Africa, but around the world who have been told their dreams are out of reach.
For the Olympian, the Olympics are about showing that dreams come true with determination, hard work and perseverance. For the designer, it’s about telling a story with his art.
“It was a chance to be part of something bigger than myself,” Millette said. “Part of something that could potentially inspire many people. It was my honor.”
The Olympic Channel officially reported today on their website that they will be following the new skeleton season through the eyes of the ‘Black Panther’ Akwasi Frimpong.