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Cyclists overcome diabetes

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2012
CLD Cycling
JASON OXENHAM
DIABETES CHALLENGE: Professional cyclist Fabio Calabria, left, and Diabetes Auckland general manager John Denton compete in a one-minute time trial challenge at a diabetes outreach event at One Tree Hill.

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A unique team of cyclists is proving diabetes doesn't have to hold you back from sport.

Members of Team Type 1 Sanofi met with keen cyclists and diabetes specialists at One Tree Hill last month where they competed in one minute time trials on stationary bikes and learnt a thing or two about living with diabetes.

The international team of 21 has six members with type 1 diabetes.

Five members of the team were in the country to compete for the first time in the New Zealand Cycle Classic Men's Road Cycling Tour, held last month in Manawatu.

Team member and reigning Australian sprint cycle champion Fabio Calabria manages diabetes as part of his lifestyle.

He says many sufferers have the mindset that they cannot succeed in sport because of the condition.

"A lot of patients and parents are a bit scared because it can be a dangerous condition if you mis-manage it.

"It's nice to be able to get rid of those myths and show them they can do whatever they want to do," Mr Calabria says.

The best advice he can offer is for those affected to work with doctors and manage the illness so it does not take over their lives.

Diabetes Auckland general manager John Denton also took part in the challenge and is advising Aucklanders to go online and complete a survey to assess their risk of developing the illness.

"It's the biggest health issue facing New Zealand at the moment but the problem is it doesn't hurt and people can't see it coming.

"It's a major problem that's going to ground our health system within 10 years."

He says more than 200,000 New Zealanders have diabetes, but the real concern is the estimated 100,000 who are unaware they have it.

He adds that the biggest contributing factors are less active lifestyles and more processed foods.

Mr Denton refers to "moving goal posts" which are also an issue, in that the average size 12 clothing is not the same size it was 10 years ago.

"A lot of people say `I'm still a size 12 so there isn't anything wrong with me', but there is something wrong with a lot of people."

Despite his concerns for the general population Mr Denton is impressed with the success of the cycling team.

"Its good to see them and hear about how they have managed their condition, it would take quite an effort."

Visit the website www. diabetesauckland.org.nz to complete a health questionnaire.

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