Diabetic champions inspire dreams

by Barbara Hewitt on December 7, 2012

Diabetic champions inspire dreams

Sporting champions around the world who have diabetes have told the International Diabetes Federation how they keep their dreams alive despite the condition. The past and present champions want to encourage young people in particular to realise that being diagnosed with diabetes is not the end to their ambitions and that it can be managed.

‘I was told that a person with diabetes couldn’t run ultra marathons with the best in the world,’ Missy Foy, elite marathon runner, who has proved the doubters wrong. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 33 and is the only diabetic runner to qualify for Olympic marathon trials. ‘Diabetes does not have to stand in the way of your dreams,’ according to Olympic cross country skier Kris Freeman. He competed in the Winter Olympics for the first time in 2002 and represented the United States at the last winter games in 2010.

While retired Olympic volleyball player Bas van de Goor added; ‘I want to inspire other people with diabetes to have an exciting life full of sport’. He has founded the Bas van de Goor Foundation aimed at improving the quality of life for people with diabetes through sport. Some of the world’s greatest sporting legends have diabetes. ‘I’m not going to let my diabetes get in the way of living and enjoying a full and complete life,’ explained tennis champion Billie Jean King who won 39 Grand Slam titles during her career.

‘I decided very early on that diabetes was going to live with me, not me live with diabetes,’ said the UK’s Sir Steve Redgrave, five times Olympic rowing gold medallist. When he was diagnosed with diabetes in 1997 he thought his Olympic career was over but he went on to win gold again at the 2000 Olympics.

Quote from DiabetesForum.com : “Im a 25 y/o type 1 diabetic, had diabetes for 14 yrs, every time I go play sports my sugar sky rockets to 360-450 mg/dl. I check my sugar before heading out to play and my sugar is always 100-120. Is this happening because my body is releasing sugar for the muscles to work, but at the same time there is no insulin for the sugar to be utilized, so it stays in the blood. I want to keep playing sports to stay fit, what can I do to avoid this skyrocketing of my sugar and at the same time preventing hypoglycemia?? “

The champions also want everyone to have access to the best care and knowledge about the condition. ‘I want everyone in the world to have access to the care, medication and tools necessary to manage diabetes and live their own dreams,’ said Olympic swimmer Gary Hall Jnr who won 10 Olympic medals and whose father was also an Olympian. He won gold at the 2000 Olympics a year after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and again in 2004.

‘The more you know about diabetes the better equipped you will be to do all the things you aspire to do,’ explained professional golfer Kelli Kuehne. She is also a spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. One person who perhaps understands the situation more than most is NASCAR racing driver Miguel Paludo whose son also has diabetes. ‘Learning that my son has diabetes has taught me that everything happens for a reason. I believe that my diagnosis eight years ago was to prepare my wife and I to take care of Oliver and teach him how to manage his diabetes,’ he said.

‘I try to think of my diabetes as a best friend, meaning that until a cure is found my diabetes will always be there, just like a best friend,’ said professional snowboarder Sean Busby. He runs snowboarding camps and clinics for children and adults with diabetes to help them learn about managing their condition.

Spanish mountaineer, explorer and the first diabetic astronaut in training, Josu Feijoo, summed up; ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Never stop dreaming’. He led the first expedition to Everest base camp that included diabetics earlier this year and is the first person with diabetes to climb Everest and reach the north and south poles.

His dream is to become the first person with diabetes in space and is training for the Virgin Galactic team. If successful he will be the first person with a chronic condition to go into space and will take part in several experiments related to blood sugar control before, during and after the launch of the vessel.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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