LeopardWatch: The downhill ascent of an inspirational Man

Doubters tried to discourage him. Olympic stereotypes stood in his way. Funding woes threatened his campaign. The Organizing Committee scratched him from his first event in strange circumstances. And the winter weather tried, for a week, to rain (and sleet, and snow) on his parade.

But in this world, there are two types of men: there are men, and then there are Men. And Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong is a Man — with a capital “M”. (For “Man”.)

They say “no man can move mountains”, but today, this Man moved me, as he moved down a mountain. Which is ‘close enough’ where I come from.

The Snow Leopard looked anxious and excited at the top of the Whistler slope ready to set out on his two runs in less than perfect conditions. Nervous, just like any of us would be.

His tongue poked out as he concentrated on turns. Just like any of ours would do.

He was undoubtedly conscious of the eyes of the world being upon him. Just like any of us would be.

Other top competitors looked cold (no pun intended) and ruthless (some may even say ‘piste off’!) and rued that slight mistake on Flag 7 as they shot a disappointed look at the time clock at the completion of their run. If they finished at all that is… The course claimed half the field on this day, as DNFs and disqualifications, including big name American pretenders “Shred” Ligety and Bode Miller. (No, I didn’t miss the quotation marks on the second one, that’s his REAL name.)

But the mountain could not tame our Leopard. He reached the bottom of the hill on both runs, not looking for the time clock and a medal, but celebrating the fact that he had just competed in the Winter Olympic Games and realized a dream few people – let alone people from Ghana – ever will. And he smiled.

Just like any of us would do.

Congratulations, Kwame!

— Irish


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