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How sports helped Bas Van de Goor control his Type 1 diabetes

Question: Would a diabetes diagnosis ruin Bas van de Goor’s volleyball career?
Answer: No — fitness helped him control his diabetes and now he’s helping others to do the same.

As part of the Dutch volleyball team Bas van de Goor won gold in the 1996 Olympics and again in the 1997 European Champion- ships. But when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2003, aged 32, he initially thought that his sporting days were over. “I knew nothing about diabetes and thought that I would not be able to play again,” says van de Goor.

“Diabetes need not stop me”

“Luckily, I soon discovered that British rower Sir Steve Red- grave had won his fifth gold medal at the Sydney Olympics after having been diagnosed with diabetes. I realised then that diabetes need not stop me.” After consulting sports specialists, van de Goor was playing again with- in a month. “After three months I found that my endurance, dynamics, strength, power and overall performance were just the same as before my diagnosis,” says van de Goor. Better still, he discovered the power of exercise in controlling diabetes.

Managing his diabetes

“Regular exercise makes it easier to predict what your blood sugar will do, so following a daily exercise regime means you need a similar amount of insulin daily — and you will need less than if you did little exercise,” he says.

When van de Goor was playing he did three hours training a day and needed 40 units of insulin daily. Later, after an injury forced him to retire and rest for two months, his need for insulin doubled. “That was also the first time that I felt the effects of soaring and dipping blood sugar, which made me insecure. When I was exercising I never experienced that,” he says.

Helping others just like him

Once fit again, he formed the Bas van der Goor Foundation to enhance the quality of life for people with diabetes through exercise and sport ( “We run sport clinics and camps, mountain climbing expeditions and a youth soccer world cup for children with diabetes. It helps them learn for themselves the benefit of regular exercise in improving their condition,” says van de Goor. “Sports helps people to better manage their diabetes. For some people with Type 2 diabetes, exercise means they no longer need to take insulin — they are no longer patients.

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