What adjustments have you have had to make as an athlete as a result of your diabetes?
KT: I try to eat as healthy and varied as possible, limiting sweets and drinking a lot of water. I manage my insulin dosage to prevent hypoglycaemia during training and tournaments, since it can make the conditions more difficult than they already are.
IM: I have to monitor my blood glucose levels before, during and after training to avoid complications like hypoglycemia that can lead to loss of consciousness. Other things like looking after myself and my diet are more than welcome. Diabetes simply forces you to live healthier, which is what we should all strive for. In other respects, I am no different from my teammates and the condition has not affected my performance as an athlete.
How challenging is it to stick to your daily routine when travelling to competitions and how do you prepare for them?
IM: Travelling for me is the biggest challenge and the hardest to deal with. The body gets used to a certain rhythm of training, rest and diet, and that all changes when you travel. Each trip is a story in itself. Sometimes we travel by bus, others by plane, and this in itself carries its own challenges and requires preparation. In principle, when I travel I avoid fatty foods, pasta, potatoes and anything that could unnecessarily raise my blood glucose over an extended period.
Has diabetes ever prevented you from achieving your goals as an athlete?
KT: When I was diagnosed, people told me that I would no longer be able to compete at the highest level. I didn’t listen to them and quickly embraced my new way of life, never thinking that I would not be able to continue as a top-level athlete. As long as I feel that I can perform, I will never give up.
IM: Fortunately, never. From day one of my diagnosis, I have had the full support of my family, friends and teammates, coaches, teachers and doctors. I’ve never found myself in a situation where I had to miss out on something because of my condition. Everyone is aware that I have diabetes and it’s never stopped me from training, playing matches and going to competitions. I’ve achieved everything I wanted.
Have your teammates been supportive?
IM: All my teammates and coaches have been supportive and understanding. Most of them were actually interested in learning more about diabetes. It’s great that I’ve been able to inform them so that they know how to react if I, or any other person with diabetes, needs assistance. It’s very important to make your environment aware of your condition. There should be no stigma attached to diabetes. You’re just doing harm to yourself by hiding it.
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