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Mark Hoile, «…into the rapids»

"Diabetes is one of the only diseases that you as an individual can control," says Mark Hoile, world class kayaker. "So don't let it control you."

EWorld class kayaker Mark Hoile walked out of a hospital four years ago determined not to let diabetes end his sporting career. He immediately returned to the water and began to paddle, only to find that his body was not yet up to the task. Six days in hospital had cut his stamina in the kayak to six minutes, and Hoile needed two days to recover from the exertion. Hoile, now 27, had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which usually emerges at a much younger age, generally in children and young adults. However, it can occur at any time in one's life.

"I guess it just sort of decided to come along and hit me." He says he had always done plenty of sport as well as adhered to the strict diet of a top athlete, which made the diagnosis that much more surprising. "I was thinking: 'It's not like I've been eating a lot of sweets: "Hoile says: "Whether it was stress, constant training, or a viral infection combined with a concurrent cortisone treatment, that was the catalyst for the onset of the disease remains unclear to this day." Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body's own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.

Before the diagnosis, Hoile had been working while at the same time preparing for domestic and international kayaking competitions. Upon finding out he had diabetes, Hoile decided he could no longer do both. "I had a full-time job and wasn't training hard enough."

Quitting work to focus solely on kayaking was not the only major change in the athlete's life: As a newly diagnosed diabetic, Hoile concluded that he could no longer live, practice and compete in the same manner as before the onset of the disease. "I realized I would have to relearn my body completely."

The decision to dedicate his time to training paid off, providing the Guildford resident with international accolades as well as advancing him to number two in the English kayaking rankings in 2003. He also learned that getting into a routine of checking his blood glucose after eating and at the beginning and end of training, helped him keep on top of his condition. Hoile remembered what the doctor told him in hospital after the diagnosis: "Diabetes is one of the only diseases that you as an individual can control, so don't let it control you”. Hoile has since hung up his paddle and returned to the workforce, but to a job where he has more than enough acumen: He travels to various schools and clubs on the lookout for champions of the future. The former competitor is passing on his knowledge as a crew coach, and tests teenagers in the hope of finding competitors for the paddling disciples at the 2012 Olympic Games.

"It's great when your doing what you love everyday", says Hoile.
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