Diabetes can’t keep cy­clist down

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News -

FOR­MER Kent Street Se­nior High School stu­dent David Nick­els (18) used to ask him­self “why me” when it came to deal­ing with type 1 diabetes, but his pas­sion for cy­cling has helped him to change fo­cus.

“Grow­ing up I felt dif­fer­ent to ev­ery­one else,” he said.

“I spent a lot of time try­ing to keep my blood sugar lev­els un­der con­trol.”

Mr Nick­els was di­ag­nosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of three.

He had in­sulin in­jec­tions four times a day un­til he was eight years old and then he moved on to an in­sulin pump, which de­liv­ers in­sulin via an in­fu­sion set that is in­serted un­der the skin.

His life re­volved around con­tin­u­ously mon­i­tor­ing his blood sugar lev­els and giv­ing his body the in­sulin it was un­able to pro­duce.

Mr Nick­els said he used to strug­gle with the fact that he had the in­cur­able con­di­tion, which could re­sult in hy­per­gly­caemia (high blood sugar) or hy­po­gly­caemia (low blood sugar) in a mat­ter of hours if it was not man­aged prop­erly.

But a few years ago he de­vel­oped a keen in­ter­est in cy­cling and his out­look started to change.

He be­gan to understand more about how type 1 diabetes af­fected his body and started to take greater care in man­ag­ing his blood sugar lev­els.

Mr Nick­els heard about Team Novo Nordisk – an all-di­a­betic pro­fes­sional cy­cling team based in the US – and re­alised it was some­thing he could be a part of af­ter he made con­tact with a for­mer pro­fes­sional cy­clist who rode for them in 2014.

In June this year, Mr Nick­els at­tended a tal­ent camp for Team Novo Nordisk in Athens, Ge­or­gia in the US.

The camp al­lows the pro squad to find its next tal­ent, but it also helps to in­stall good be­hav­iours when it comes to diabetes man­age­ment and cy­cling in young riders.

Mr Nick­els, who only started rac­ing in Jan­uary this year, proved he was good enough to make the cut and was in­vited to join the team’s de­vel­op­ment squad.

“I rode with 50 other di­a­betic ath­letes from all over the world,” he said.

“They se­lected us on our strengths and our over­all per­for­mance and di­a­betic con­trol. I feel ex­cited that rid­ing with Team Novo Nordisk will help in­spire other young peo­ple with diabetes or any med­i­cal condi- tion to keep press­ing on and for them to have hope that any­thing is pos­si­ble – even with such a con­di­tion as hard as diabetes.”

Mr Nick­els will move to At­lanta in Ge­or­gia in Jan­uary to join the de­vel­op­ment team and take part in ma­jor cy­cling events across the world.

He will spend a year train­ing and rac­ing with the de­vel­op­ment team in the US and Europe, which will in­clude 25 hours a week – or 700km per week – train­ing on flat and moun­tain­ous ter­rain.

In five years Mr Nick­els hopes he will able to com­pete in the Tour de France and he doesn’t be­lieve that diabetes will stand in his way.

“All mem­bers of the team are pri­mar­ily ath­letes we just also hap­pen to have diabetes as well.

“I don’t see diabetes as a prob­lem to get­ting to the top level of the sport as it is pos­si­ble to man­age it to the point that it is as if I didn’t have it. This is not easy – but it is pos­si­ble.”

Pic­ture: Will Rus­sell www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d446446

Di­a­betic and keen cy­clist David Nick­els.

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