The London 2012 Olympics have arrived! We took this chance to ask two of our Olympians and Blue Circle Champions about training with diabetes and who to look out for during the Games.
- Bas van de Goor, Volleyball (BvG)
- Kris Freeman, Cross-country skiing (KF)
How has diabetes influenced your sports career and training regime?
BvG: It didn't influence my sporting career at all. The only moment it took some extra time was the first month. I was diagnosed in November 2003 and played my first game one month later. During my career with diabetes, I didn't feel I lost any power, speed or endurance. The only 'right' I gained was that I was able to leave training for a blood glucose check.
KF: As an elite athlete with diabetes, I have had to learn a lot about physiology. Understanding what is happening in my body when I train and race is of paramount importance. Timing is critical. I follow a precise diet that must be eaten at specific times in the day with a planned amount of insulin. I have to be extremely diligent about my diabetes care at all times or I will not be able to train as effectively as I need to. Wanting to work this hard towards being the best athlete I can be makes me realize just how much I love to ski.
What would be your message to people with diabetes?
BvG: If you have diabetes, you are crazy if you don't play sports. Sport is a fantastic tool to achieve better blood glucose control.
KF: Diabetes does not have to get in the way of your dreams or aspirations. The tools to manage this disease are available and are constantly improving. Diabetes is only a problem when it is not properly controlled. The better people take care of themselves, the easier it may be to focus on and achieve their goals. Personal responsibility is the best way to manage the disease. Learn as much as possible about how diet affects glucose levels and study the glycemic index. Become well versed in the history of the disease so that you can better appreciate how amazing the modern innovations in diabetes care truly are.
What is your favorite Olympic memory?
BvG: Besides our Olympic gold, the first memory which comes to mind is, of course, the fifth gold medal of Sir Steve Redgrave. He inspired me to share my experiences with sports and diabetes. Showing the world you can win Olympic Gold in one of the hardest sports there is, says more than any doctor can tell you. With all respect to doctors!
KF: At the age of 21, I was the youngest male selected to the US cross-country Olympic team in 2002. I was given the honor of skiing second in the 4x10,000 meter relay. My three teammates were all in their 30s and had been my heroes growing up. I was able to keep the team in medal contention and we finished fourth which was by far the best finish ever for the US in that event. Sitting at the post-race press conference with my team and role models after a near medal performance will always be a highlight.
Which athletes will you be looking for in the summer Games?
BvG: My former volleyball colleagues Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil are now participating in the beach volleyball tournament. And of course I will also be looking out for Usain Bolt and Roger Federer, two icons in sport today.
KF: Like everyone else, I am curious to watch Lochte and Phelps duel in the pool. I love watching all the track and field events and Jamaica versus the US in the 4x100 relay should be particularly interesting.
What country do you think will come out on top in the medal count?
BvG: 1 USA, 2 CHINA, 3 UNITED KINGDOM and I hope my country; The Netherlands will succeed in their ambition to enter the Top 10.
KF: The US will win the medal count. We have the most talented and diverse roster of any nation going into London.