Diabetes is not necessarily the end of the road for an athlete. In fact, it could be the beginning of great achievements if properly managed.
Several athletes – swimmers, football players, cyclists, etc.- have proven that managing diabetes as an athlete is possible.
Here are just 15 athletes with diabetes that have had successful careers despite having the condition:
Gary Hall, Jr. – Swimming – United States
For Gary, Swimming was a family sport. Following the footsteps of his father and grandfather, he represented the US in 1996 at the Olympics where he claimed 2 silver medals.
Shortly after, Gary was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Though shocking, he went on to achieve an impressive feat in his career. He continued working out for up to 8 hours daily, while checking his blood sugar level at intervals.
He was crowned the world’s fastest swimmer in the 2000 Olympic games but he didn’t stop there. He impressed the world even further by acquiring 10 Olympic medals by the year 2008.
Hall retired from competitive swimming in the year 2008 and is now a member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JRDF).
Ben Coker – Football (Soccer) – England
Ben Coker is an athlete who learned to manage diabetes during his football career. He currently plays for the League One club Southend United and has quite a number of achievements under his belt.
Coker was only 15 when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. His first symptoms experienced were frequent thirst and frequent urination.
Sometime in 2018 while playing for Southend against Sunderland, he suffered a knee injury that prevented him from playing any more games in that season. Coker came back fully into the game in 2019 when he signed for Lincoln City.
Coker successfully learned to manage his blood sugar levels quickly. While playing football for about 12 hours weekly, he carefully balanced his carbohydrate with insulin intake and always kept an energy drink on him to prevent his blood sugar from being too low.
Soon, Coker switched from injection to using insulin pumps. He admitted that the changes brought him more flexibility while playing
Jay Cutler – NFL Football – United States
NFL quarterback Jay Cutler is another footballer who proved that anything is possible if you believe. He plays for the Chicago Bears at the time he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during his tenure at the Denver Broncos.
Cutler experienced drastic weight loss and fatigue but that didn’t stop him.
To better manage his condition, cutler adopted the use of an insulin pump. He then switched to using regular insulin injections instead in addition to blood glucose testing before, during, and after games.
Other measures he took for his diabetes management were cutting excessive carbs and sweets in his diet with eating more fruits and proteins.
Cutler now visits hospitals in the United States raising awareness about diabetes. He also teamed up with ELI Lilly in 2009 to campaign for a program that funds diabetic camp scholarships.
Sara Groenewegen – Softball – Canada
Groenewegen is a Canadian softball pitcher born on the 12th of April, 1995. She is a member of the Canadian women’s national softball team and has achieved has accomplished a lot from an early age which eventually led to helping Team Canada qualify for the Olympics.
The professional softball player was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 9 and contracted Legionnaires’ disease later in her career. The combination of both diseases prevented her from training and kept her indoors for a period of time.
Sara eventually bounced back on her feet and was considered one of the best softball pitchers in Canada.