A Silver Diaversary – 25 years with Type 1 Diabetes

t1d looks like meSo we’ve made it to 25 years with only minor(ish) mishaps – wehey! This blog isn’t about reflection because, frankly, I don’t really remember that much from the first couple of years (and subsequent years were drowned out by excessive partying and cider consumption). This is a celebration and a look to the future!

So, what’s next

Anyone who follows my blog or social media accounts will probably know that I’ve been training to be a professional wrestler for the last 15 months. It was a slow start, thanks to a lack of natural athleticism (we can’t have it all), and the barriers that continue to be thrown in my path often feel immovable. Training for 3 hours after spending most of the day below 3.0 mmols is a test of my physical and mental strength, as well as a test of how much I want it. You get people who don’t understand and show no respect for your death-defying fortitude before you’ve even got into the ring, but that’s exactly why I keep going. And I keep battling, keep working hard to be a better athlete, a better performer, and ultimately, a better version of me.

Why?

To set The Bar. To prove to myself that barriers are made to be ran through (because, let’s face it, I’d rather run through anything than jump!). To show others that you don’t have to live inside a metaphoric box. To be the best role model I can be. To change the game.

Watching my dad fight cancer everyday for more time with his family instilled a fighting spirit in me that turns negative situations into opportunities (most of the time!). Type 1 diabetes is, and will continue to be, tiring and petulant. It doesn’t do as you tell it to, it throws water over you while you’re asleep, and the noise it makes is bloody endless! But giving up is not an option.

The People

And this is why giving up has never been an option for me. A nephew who calls me Superwoman, friends who take me to climb up the highest mountain in Edinburgh, my ProJo family who trust me to catch their flying cross bodies or to superplex them safely off the top rope. Driven by an internal fire to succeed, but the fire keeps burning thanks to those around me who replace some of the strength that diabetes takes away. Straight Fire…all day, every day!

Here’s to 25+ more years of cider drinking, body slamming, hell raising fun…in spite of a dysfunctional immune system and part-time pancreas!

 #ThisIsProgress

X

 

The Evolution and Revolution of Wrestling With Type 1 Diabetes

It’s been 4 months since I started training to be a professional wrestler. Last month was also my 24th diaversary. Yet somehow, even with all those years of experience, I feel like the last four months have taught me more about myself and about my diabetes than ever before. 

Evolution

Nikki Bella describes herself as “fearless” – while I would never consider myself to be scared or weak, the physical trust I now have in my body thanks to wrestling means that I’m more fearless than ever. Taking bumps with conviction, controlling my weight whilst throwing my body into new sequences, running the ropes with reasonable speed and power. It takes time, it takes bruises – there’s no denying that. There’s also still many years of hard work ahead of me to reach the high standards that this business demands. But this is what the evolution has taught me so far: 

1. That my tolerance for pain is unnaturally high 

2. That my body is stronger than I ever thought it was

3. Team work in wrestling and in diabetes creates less painful (or botched) end results

4. It’s not just about the end result, it’s about the story you’ve lived to tell getting there

5. How much I want to inspire others just like the women wrestlers before me have done

As someone who does not do early mornings, it also proves how resilient I am to get on a bus at 7:30am every Saturday morning before 3 hours of training! 

Revolution

To some friends, family, colleagues and fellow members of the diabetes online community, wrestling isn’t something they understand nor can they see the benefits (well, they do witness and hear about those previously mentioned bruises…). But a recent message on Twitter from a very down-to-earth and well-respected healthcare professional solidified to me the reason that I do this: it isn’t about me, it’s about other people who are handed the challenge of type 1 diabetes and dream of being professional wrestlers (or have any other dreams for that matter). 

You read stories of rugby players, athletes, marathon runners, cyclists, triathletes with type 1 diabetes but there are many guys/girls/men/women living with type 1 diabetes who aspire to be wrestlers – I’m merely trying to smooth out the path for them by being the best that I can be. 

Kyle O’Reilly is setting the bar incredibly high. He has type 1 diabetes and is signed to one of the bigger independent professional wrestling organisations in the US, Ring of Honour (as well as the likes of New Japan Pro Wrestling). Debuting in 2005, I’ve had the smallest of glimpses into how interesting the last 16+ years must’ve been for him. I tweeted Kyle recently asking if he had any practical advice for wrestling with T1D. His reply: “best of luck, it’s not an easy path!”.

When I hear from healthcare professionals that there are others – that’s right, amongst the 400,000 people with type 1 diabetes in the UK, I’m not the only one with dreams of professional wrestling – it makes me so hopeful and proud. A future Team Diabadass. Given that the prevalence of type 1 diabetes appears to be high in the 0-14 (AKA the Cena generation) and 20-39 (current cohort of trainees) age categories, the revolution is surely only just beginning.

And what’s the dream for me? Celebrating 25 years of defying science and living with type 1 diabetes by making my official wrestling debut (that’s July 2017…not really enough time but I’ll give it everything!). That would be awesome

But in wrestling and in diabetes, it’s best to take things one step at a time.

Keep powering through 💪🏻

Charlotte X 

P.s don’t skip leg day. Or I’ll make you tap to the Crushing Thighs Body Scissors 😉 

Training to be a pro wrestler: the #ProJo and #WrestlingWithT1D

Professional wrestling has been a big part of my life, and particularly how I cope with life, for the best part of 16 years. Escapism, entertainment and strength. When I was angry at the world, wrestling gave me a “safe place” where no one would judge me, or expect anything from me. Chyna, the Nineth Wonder of the World, taught me how to lift weights when society was obsessing about being skinny. The wrestling industry doesn’t conform to the “norm”. Even though wrestling has been my dream for some time, I didn’t have a clue where to start! 

Enter the #ProJo. This is the wrestling school run by Progress Wrestling in Brixton, London. The first session of an 8-week beginners course started on the 16th of April, so now I had an idea of where to start. Impulsive decision made, I signed up without reeeaaally thinking about the elephant that’s always in my room: Type 1 diabetes.

It’s probably a credit to myself and to the many parts of my past/present healthcare team that I don’t consider diabetes to be a barrier at all. But this would be the first real practical test of my two-year insulin pumping life. One thing that my brilliant diabetes consultant has taught me is that we can use strategies to try and anticipate/be as prepared as possible. Without knowing exactly how it would be structured, I went into the first session having done a lot of guess work but I strategised with the intention that I’d leave with plenty of data to tweak things for next time.

Nerves

Week one: totally petrified, not entirely sure what the hell I’ve got myself in for, can I really do this, what if I fail? The many questions/feelings running through my mind as I stood in the dark alley waiting for coach Darrell to open the ProJo.

Week two: still a little petrified, I really struggled with rolls last week so can I do them again this week, what if I let the team down, what’s in store for us this week? The answer: flip bumps!

Week three: flip bumps test my mental toughness big time, time to pull that out of the bag this week. But it’s scary. But I really want to do this well. 

Blood glucose control and going pumpless

There are certain elements of wrestling training that mean my insulin pump has to be off for a fairly prolonged amount of time. It isn’t recommendedthat pumps be disconnected for more than one hour at a time due to the risk of ketoacidosis. So don’t try this at home guys! *

First week was such a blur and I couldn’t really remember how long my pump had been disconnected for during rolls but ending with a blood glucose of 9.3 mmols wasn’t a bad effort. 

Second week was a little more structured but air bubbles ruined a well-planned strategy. 

Third week: nailed it! Starting blood glucose was 5.4 mmols, ending on a very respectable 6.9 mmols.

Fourth week: for a few days, I’ve been very sensitive to insulin and exercise (probably the summer weather gracing the south of England) and so a hypo before and during training meant that the strategy was modified slightly. But aside from the hypos, starting on 4.7 mmols and ending on 8.5 mmols – that’ll do.

The Strategy ** (please read footnote)

Breakfast at 8am using the same 1:15g insulin to carbohydrate ratio, as well as a finely tuned insulin to fat/protein ratio.

Before training (10:30): a small snack of 10g of carbs (usually 1/2 a protein bar or 1/2 a packet of Nakd raisins)

Training is usually stretching and intense conditioning until 11:45am. Pump stays on.

Next is rolls (front, back, shoulder), bumps (front, back, flip) and in-ring work. As it could potentially hurt me to keep it on, as well as the possibility of the tubing becoming tangled, I take my pump off for the entirety of this section (1h 45m).

11:45am: pre-bolus for 1hour of “missed” basal (0.6u).

1:30pm: bolus for remainder of “missed” basal (0.45).

For my post-training meal (usually a much-needed coffee and protein bar), I change my ratio from 1:12 to 1:15. And set a -20% temporary basal from 5pm. Any yoga, dynamic stretching or foam rolling after training requires a -50% temporary basal. The -20% temporary basal is extended until 4am (to avoid any nocturnal hypos).

Psychology

When I see all that information written down, it’s not difficult to see why in some elements of wrestling training, my mind goes into overdrive and overthinks movements. If there’s any one thing that could hinder my progress, it’ll be my mind and certainly not my diabetes. Practicing yoga during the week (particularly before work) has really been helping to not only improve my flexibility/mobility but also to free my mind. At the WWE’s stellar performance centre, yoga is high on the training schedule for all new recruits. Darrell’s advice during flip bumps has stayed with me: the more apprehensive you are in a movement, the more likely it is to go wrong and potentially someone gets hurt. So it’s all about practicing the moves and removing the fear for me.

Teamwork

Life, wrestling and diabetes would be very difficult without the support of team mates. Our first training session began with neck exercises in pairs that certainly broke down any awkward barriers! But the trust required between two complete strangers was a big building block. The guys support each other through the good and the bad. Wrestling is three things: a sport, a performance, a show. The aim is to work together to entertain people in a safe, athletic manner. Watching others and learning from someone else’s strengths is a big part of every session. I hope that my fellow trainees don’t see my gender or my diabetes as a barrier. My height (or lack of) maybe, but nothing else!

And in #WrestlingWithT1D, the confidence that Dr L has instilled in me is the biggest support I could ask for. And he somehow kept a straight face as I described (in detail!) the various requirements of those neck exercises! Managing Type 1 diabetes is 24/7 for each individual but receiving the coaching and education necessary to be able to self-manage as best as possible should be the very centre piece of the jigsaw. 

Good coaches and team mates make the #Projo, and they make #WrestlingWithT1D that little bit easier.

* As insulin pumps only deliver fast acting insulin, this means there is no circulating background basal insulin, hence why ketoacidosis can occur if the pump becomes disconnected for any reason. Being conscious of any potential ketones is a fundamental part of the strategy.

** These numbers and this strategy are wholly individual to me. The strategy is an overview and/or provides a starting point. Any changes in ratios, insulin sensitivity factors and basal options should be discussed between individuals and their healthcare professionals. 

Exercise and Type 1 diabetes: breaking down barriers

Sport and exercise is vital for physical and mental health, whether you’ve got Type 1 diabetes or not. But what barriers exist, if any, when you combine sport, exercise and Type 1 diabetes? At this year’s Diabetes UK Professional Conference (DPC), several sessions were dedicated to this topic. Through a mixture of plenary lectures, an interactive workshop based on case studies, and a dual-themed session which included a Type 1 athlete’s voice, we learned about the basic science, the clinical science and self-management strategies.

New research

I’m no scientist but having followed the work of the ExTOD (Exercise for Type One Diabetes) group over the last year, I certainly had an interest in the first opening plenary of the session. Dr Rob Andrews and Dr Parth Narendran have been looking at whether beta cells (those cells that make insulin – the ones that the immune system attacks in people with Type 1 diabetes) can be preserved through exercise in those newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. While the research will progress, they encountered some barriers. More specifically, it was difficult to retain the trial group after initial recruitment.

But one major outcome came from this research: they discovered some qualitative reasons that prevented people newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes from exercising. These psychological, physical and educational barriers included fear of hypos, actual hypos and a lack of knowledge amongst their healthcare team. Whilst some might be thinking “doh, it’s obvious that people feel like this”, the fact that it’s now been documented in a clinical trial can provide a basis for addressing these issues. The points will hopefully promote further discussions about potentially using peer support to overcome some of the psychological barriers faced in this situation.

I look forward to feeding back more data from this ExTOD study in the very near future as the trial continues.

The physical

Something that I’ve come across before in research and which was mentioned in several sessions is the way that we, as people with Type 1 diabetes, use fuel while exercising. Aerobic exercise (for example moderate intensity running, cycling or power walking) causes lipid (fat) oxidation and decreases blood glucose levels. Anaerobic exercise (short/high intensity cardio vascular exercise, weightlifting and sprinting) causes carbohydrate oxidation and can actually increase your blood glucose levels.

But here’s the tricky part: as Dr Alistair Lumb pointed out to the crowd of healthcare professionals (HCPs) gathered in one corner of the workshop (Adjusting Insulin and Carbohydrates for Exercise in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes), in team sports (for example) your personal work rate/energy expenditure can be very dependant on the opposite team. And the position you play. And the time of day you exercise. And the weather. And competition nerves. What Alistair focuses on is strategies: seeing patterns (small or big), getting all the information from the person, and maximising any tools we have at our disposal (such as pumps or CGMs). There’s no right or wrong. Every person is an individual which by definition means they’re not the same. By sharing this (awesome) mentality, the message becomes loud and clear to every other HCP listening.

Dr Richard Bracken (along with some other clever, brilliant people) taught me most of what I know about the physiology of exercise and Type 1 diabetes. Not quite sure I’ll ever fully forgive him for making me run flat out on a non-motorised (weird) treadmill but it was all part of me coming to terms with my diabetes (this was after almost 20 years but who’s counting anyway?).

An interesting finding that Richard and co at the Diabetes Research Unit Cymru (Swansea University) discovered is that many people with Type 1 diabetes don’t actually meet the recommended daily guideline for exercise. Low cardio-respiratory fitness subsequently increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. But the benefits of aerobic training can be seen in just a few weeks – such as the way the body learns to use fat as fuel. They also found that capillaries of people with Type 1 diabetes are often narrower in diameter (thinner). Research hasn’t yet concluded whether this is due to Type 1 diabetes or due to sedentary lifestyles (although not every person with Type 1 diabetes is inactive). The sedentary lifestyle point could also link in with previous points about fear of hypos, lack of HCP knowledge etc.

When it comes to physiology, Type 1 diabetes and self-management, the Animas Sports Weekend was undoubtedly a great place to cement some prior knowledge. If you have the time and cash, I’d highly recommend going along – it’s so much fun!

The Psychological

The genius: Dr Mark Davies (Clinical Psychologist, Belfast). Every word that comes out of his mouth is pure brilliance. He just gets it. In the ‘mind’ section of ‘Exercising mind and body in Type 1 diabetes’, he likened managing Type 1 diabetes to pushing a boulder up a hill and it falling down time and time again. AKA relentless hard work. But what was even more interesting are the parallels (well, more like differences) between how sports people are coached and how people with Type 1 diabetes are instructed to manage it. Sports coaching uses a “process-driven” approach whilst clinicians have always placed emphasis on outcomes. Mark’s double act with Sam Brand of Team Novo Nordisk (the first Type 1 professional cycling team) was a perfect combination of clinical and real life. Sam is coached to do his absolute best in every race regardless of the outcome. If he’s beaten, that’s because the other person has something more than him. The same applies to individual sports (martial arts, tennis, athletics) or team sports.

So HCPs need to change the way that they “coach” their patients with Type 1 diabetes. “Results are feedback not failure”. Having overcome some of my own perfectionist/controlling demons, this approach is enlightening. We can feel pressurised and judged by a hba1c test every 6­­–12 months, but working on the processes without necessarily focusing on that particular outcome is surely the key to better quality of life?

There are barriers. Fact. From what we heard over the three days, it’s clear that we can’t address physical barriers without considering the psychological. Mark Davies and Sam Brand talked about the collaborative approach and coaching model within the sports clinic – shouldn’t people with diabetes be empowered in the same way?

The HCPs and academics who actively share their knowledge with other HCPs are doing two brilliant things: they’re directly educating other HCPs, but more importantly they’re indirectly empowering people living with Type 1 diabetes. As I sat amongst a packed room of delegates at the workshop, I felt a huge sense of respect. Respect for Alistair, Rob and Parth – we can’t clone them, but they’re contributing immensely to the lives of many people living with Type 1 diabetes in a very positive way. And respect for the other HCPs in the room who genuinely wanted to learn and had an interest – hopefully an interest that they’ll pass on to their patients.

Keep powering through!

Charlotte X

Burnout: Stop, Pause, Recharge…Repeat?

  

Life burnout, work burnout, diabetes burnout – modern life has ample armour in its arsinal to bring us all down a peg or two. Add to this the stress of worrying about wayward siblings, the ever-present pressure of juggling finances, and the overwhelming expectations we have for ourselves.

So this is my story of the last few gloomy months. 

The competition for perfection …

It’s hard to point out exactly what “triggered” this burnout but it probably goes back to a weekend late in August 2015. Spending time at a festival with some of my oldest friends tilted the seesaw drastically from “I’m doing pretty well at this life business” to “omg I’m totally failing at life”. The competition was constant: money, relationships, jobs, marriage. At that precise time, I was working hard just to keep myself alive in the midst of alcohol and junk food. But unless you live with a long-term health condition that the media insists on emphasising the deadly nature of, it’s difficult to understand how priorities are slightly screwed. It wasn’t just the external competition but it exentuated the pressure that I put on myself. A potentially volatile combination. 

I put so much time into helping others that I forgot about me

In the last few years I’ve dedicated quite a lot of my time to helping others in various ways. This is something I’m passionate about and will never stop. However, being able to empathise with others without completely taking on board their worries is something I have to get better at. It’s also about giving yourself time. My mother once referred to me as “a steel box” incapable of relaxing. But as of 1 January 2016, my resolution is to allocate time to unwind. Whether that’s yoga, meditation or an hour in the bath listening to the most chilled R&B tunes, it’s “me” time to just physically and mentally let go.

To move forward, you have to let go of the past

A though kept eating away at my mind: “I have no identity without diabetes. I don’t know what life is without it. Who am I?”. Being diagnosed at 3, I literally have no memory of life without Type 1 diabetes. I was questioning my entire personality. The same can be said about the trauma I experienced as a small child. Would I be the same person if my dad hadn’t died? What would our lives be like? But to move forward, I had to let go of the past. It isn’t about forgetting, it’s about accepting that things have happened and using those in a positive way. A collective “And breeeeeaaaathe”.

The technology vs the mind 

Technology is awesome and I’m a total gadget queen. But the presence and pressure from the technology that’s now permenantly attached to me was the final tipping point. Constant alarms. Interrupted sleep. Being reminded that you’re inadequate. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) literally saves lives but it almost cost me my sanity. Professor Katharine Barnard  has undertaken interesting research into psychological aspects of CGMs and artifical pancreas systems (well worth a read). 

A team of doctors worth their weight in gold

So without a specialist nurse (who’s currently on maternity leave and who I would’ve talked to about these concerns) I turned to my very wonderful GP. Never did I feel stupid or judged. He suggested that it might be helpful if I had a few sessions with the counsellor at the practice. As someone who doesn’t really know much about diabetes, she was able to help with some historic issues that I’d never fully addressed. She also recommended some books to read such as Managing Perfectionism. Just what this book worm needed.

Meanwhile over at my 6-month clinic appointment, the consultant suggested a “diabetic holiday”. I should probably add that this is a very individualised approach – he knows that I’m sensible, intelligent and mature but that the intensity at which I was attempting to self-manage my diabetes was becoming counterproductive. So a month without a CGM, no volunteering and reconnecting with what makes me, well me. Truth be told, the idea of giving myself time off was almost all I needed to release the stress. But it was also a perfect time to remind myself that diabetes is a big part of me, but it certainly isn’t the best thing about me.

New year, new challenges

At the beginning of January, I very excitedly accepted a new job that takes me away from academic publishing and into a new world of medical communications. As someone who does need challenges, this is the perfect way to start the new year. 

Repeat? As with general adulthood and living with a long-term health condition, burnout might creep in again. But having learnt from the last few months, I feel more confident about managing my mind as well as my body. Because the light is so much better than the darkness!

Keep shining 🌟

Charlotte X 

My Diabetes Rugby Team (because it’s not just #DiabetesandMe)

The theme for Diabetes Week 2015 is ‘Diabetes and Me’. But it isn’t just about me.  Diabetes is a collaborative effort after all, so this is about the (rugby) team that enables me to live with diabetes day in and day out… 

Family:

Mandy, mum, full back. Protecting the try line and always making sure that our team never loses the game. She also has the best counter-attacking game in the business.
Without her, the game that is Diabets would be lost more often than it’s won. I owe her a lot of victories.

Dominic, brother, wing. He’s not always involved in the game but when he is, he can turn the game around. Also a good one to have defensively when things get messy.
Many victories (or ‘un losses’) can be contributed to his quick action and coolhead in difficult situations.

Charlie, nephew, the ball (although he’ll tell you that he’s Leigh Halfpenny’s successor). The motivation behind my entire game. He, along with his baby sister, is the reason why I fight so hard every day.
 

Friends and housemates: 

To choose some over others would be doing my friends and fabulous housemates a huge disservice, so collectively they’re the front row. They prop the scrum up and they’re so bloody good at it, the scrum never collapses. They do a lot of the ‘unseen’ work which they don’t even realise they do half the time. They save me from my self, and keep me up when it looks like diabetes is dragging me down.

Health care professionals: 

Alistair, consultant, head coach. Every good coach listens to his players and support staff. He values the team around him, and is always open to banter.

Janey, DSN, assistant coach. The head coach deals more with strategy while the assistant coach is involved more on a practical level. The day-to-day struggles that my hypo-induced brain can’t work out. My self-management is only possible because of excellent coaching. Had I not been given the level of education (previous and ongoing), life with diabetes would be much harder.

Other people with diabetes: 

Second row, flankers and number 8. When you’re up against heavy opposition, they’re the steam engine pushing you forward and rucking tirelessly to gain back possession. They physically stand out from the crowd. You admire them for everything they do and how hard they work. The pack keeps fighting for the entirety of the game.
When you need someone to have your back when times get tough, those who understand and face the same struggles will be there for you.

The diabetes online community:

Centres. They’re always there, whether on the offensive or defensive, and they offer the creativity that is sometimes lacking. There’s always someone with another idea or who looks at something from another perspective. We’re always learning. That’s what I value most about the #doc.

Me:

Charlotte, Type 1 diabetic, outside half. Halfbacks rule the game in rugby – or the best ones do! I have two friends who used to play for the same team at outside half and scrum half, were small in stature but ran the game with their minds. That’s the strategy I try to adopt. In years gone by, I would’ve tried to bulldoze my way through life and diabetes, but not anymore. You’ve got to outthink it.

But you also have to realise that diabetes is just like a rugby game: you need all 15 players on the field and the coaching staff to be working together in order to be successful (and you still might lose by 1 point, but there’s no shame in that).
It may be your responsibility 24/7, but it’s also a team game.

Keep going, and be strong 💪

Charlotte
x 

 

This Girl Can: Women’s Sport Week #WSW2015

The first ever Women’s Sport Week is happening right now (1-7 June 2015). A powerful collaboration between organisations such as Sport England, government ministers such as Tracey Crouch MP, athletes like Jessica Ennis-Hill and the media. Five years ago I completed my dissertation on the media’s representation of women in sport: much progress has been made since then (the 2012 Olympics played a part) but there’s still plenty of work to be done.

Today various athletes and presenters have been sharing stories about the women who inspired them. So here’s my (somewhat unconventional) story…

Power

As a 10 year-old watching professional wrestling, I was fortunate to witness the transition from women as ‘valets’ and ‘eye candy’ to women as divas and wrestlers. Ok, it’s not a world most feminists would be comfortable emersing themselves in, but the physical power needed to fly off the top ropes or counter a powerbomb with a hurricanerana is obvious to see. One of my first inspirations from professional wrestling: Lita (otherwise known as Amy Dumas). So fearless, so cool, but so powerful. 

Strength

Back to my love of professional wrestling, seeing how strong and powerful those women were really influenced how I felt about physical strength. The phrase “strong is the new skinny” has become popular recently, but at 13 years old, I only ever wanted to be strong. Chyna (former WWF Intercontinental Champion and the first woman to compete in the Royal Rumble) released a video (yep, VHS) with  a weight training section. The ninth wonder of the world taught me how to bench! This really gave me the confidence to lift heavier. In Welsh sport, Non Evans was (and continues to be) a hero. She represented Wales at the Commonwealth Games in three disciplines: weightlifting, judo and wrestling. She also won 89 international rugby caps. For someone to master four sports shows true talent, strength and passion.

Speed

The woman who broke all sorts of world records in 100m, 200m and long jump: Marion Jones. She inspired me to push harder and to never give up. But she also single-handedly crushed my faith in female athletes. When Marion Jones won five gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games (100m, 200m, long jump, 4x100m and 4x400m) I was in complete awe of her speed. She was the Usain Bolt of the late 90s/early 2000s. But in 2003 when the full extent of her doping offences were emerging (she also admitted to some), the banned substance she abused that hit me hardest: insulin. The one thing that was keeping me alive, she was abusing to enhance her sporting performance. 

Admittedly it’s been difficult to fully trust any female sprinter since Marion Jones. However, there are a great bunch of women dominating short sprints right now, including Muriel Ahore, Blessing Okagbare and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who will be inspiring today’s generation of sporty teenage girls to run faster and reach higher. 

In ‘real life’ I look up to many friends and compatrates as inspirations, and hope that one day I can be an inspiration to others. Happy Women’s Sports Week! Remember, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, This Girl Can.

Be strong 💪

Charlotte