Diabetes Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where the body has stopped producing the hormone called insulin. The hormone, insulin, is crucial for the cells to be able to utilize blood sugar as fuel and therefor be fully functioning. Having an autoimmune disease means that your own immune system is attacking itself. People diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1 will live with this disease for the rest of their life since there is no cure for this today. They are totally dependent on injecting insulin to their body to regulate their blood sugar and therefor survive. High blood sugar can cause damage to inner organs shortening their lifetime while low blood sugar can lead to unconsciousness and death.
Sports and Diabetes
Sports and Diabetes Type 1 is a good combo. Exercise has a positive effect on body and blood sugar. It is however a though balance since it demands a lot from the person to know how the body reacts to exercise and recovery. It is also necessary to know how the body reacts to different food and nutrition. A person with Type 1 Diabetes that wants to go for a career in their sport needs to get a wide knowledge of their body and how different diets will cause different reactions in their body. Sports at high level have high demands on everybody, but even higher on a person with Type 1 Diabetes. But it is definitely possible to get to the elite!
Robin Bryntesson is an elite skier from Sweden who has had Type 1 Diabetes since he was 16. Robin was attending the skiing institute at the senior high school and going for the world elite. His doctor at the time advised Robin to stop his elite staking and just use skiing as regular exercise. Robin bravely defied this. He increased his amount of training and has proved that he could do just what the doctor didn´t believe, by getting three gold medals in sprint at the World Championships for juniors and also placed high in senior competitions as well. Besides this he was number twelve in “Vasaloppet” that is a skiing competition where large parts of the world elite are participating. Robin says that “you can´t beat Diabetes, but you can get a tie!”. Today Robin has left his skiing career and instead he is working to spread awareness of the disease. He also arranges a camp for kids with the disease where he wants to give them encouragement and show them the possibilities there are despite the disease.
Bobby Clarke is a former hockey player that played at the top level in the world. Bobby was diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1 as a thirteen-year-old and, opposite to the doctor that Robin Bryntesson met, Bobby´s doctor inspired him to continue his sport provided that he managed it well. His career lasted between 1969 and 1984, which meant 15 seasons in the world’s highest ranked hockey league. In the ´70s the hockey was tougher than today and the toughest team of all was Philadelphia Flyers, and that´s where Bobby was team captain. In his time in Philadelphia, they won Stanley Cup twice and in 1987 he was ranked number 23 of the hundred best players in the league through time. The year after, he was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Other famous athletes with Diabetes Type 1
Besides these two profiles there are lots of athletes at high levels around the world that are struggling with Diabetes Type 1. Pär Zetterberg played football in Anderlecht where he was team captain. He also played in the Swedish National Team. Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King was in their time in the absolute top in tennis. Five times winner of the TGA-tour, Scott Veerplank, also had Type 1 Diabetes. They all have a disease that could kill them quickly if they make a mistake but won´t be stopped because of it!