Back on the World Stage 10 Years After Diabetes Diagnosis: He is thought of as one of the most elite cross country skiers in America and, “Kris Freeman is back in the hunt for an Olympic medal in Vancouver after being named… to the U.S. ski team following a disappointing finish at the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy,” according to PRNewsWire. Freeman lives with Type 1 diabetes.
It is anticipated that Freeman will participate in as many as five events in the 2010 Olympics including “the 15 km freestyle, the individual sprint, the 30 km pursuit, the team sprint, and the 50 km mass start classic,” said PRNewsWire.
Freeman was diagnosed ten years ago as a teenager and health care providers told him he would never be able to compete in the Olympics. This isn’t the first Olympics in which Freeman has been able to participate. According to the press release, “A key marker on Freeman’s comeback trail is how he is now treated for type 1 diabetes. To compete in the 2010 Games, Freeman will wear a small device, called an insulin pump, which provides an adjustable supply of insulin to help manage his diabetes even while racing.”
Freeman was quick to point out, “I’m motivated to win for my country and myself, but to also prove to detractors that it’s possible to compete against the world’s best cross-country skiers, even with type 1 diabetes.”
It is this ‘can do’ attitude that has allowed Freeman to not only achieve much, but also to excel in his chosen sport. It should be noted that only one other American Olympian has ever medalled in cross-country skiing. To add a greater sense of drama to the prospect PRNewsWire reported that Freeman “underwent surgery in both legs last spring to alleviate debilitating pain caused by a rare muscle disorder called compartment syndrome.”
While Freeman is looking for a win he is also concerned about the health of other young people who also must wage a daily battle with Type 1 diabetes. When he’s not skiing Freeman “travels for sponsor Eli Lilly and Company to children’s diabetes camps across the U.S. to speak to campers about their disease. To date, he has met with more than 3,000 youngsters nationwide.”
Freeman talks about that experience, “I have a blast meeting the campers, but more importantly, I want them to see that a person with diabetes can do almost anything he or she puts his mind to, including competing in the Olympics.”
Press release information states, “In competition, Freeman is a 13-time U.S. National cross-country champion and recently had his best finish at the 2009 World Championships and the best U.S. finish in any cross-country event in more than two decades. He came in fourth in November’s World Cup 15 km classic in Kuusamo, Finland.
“At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Freeman placed 22nd in the 15 km classic and 14th in the 30 km pursuit. He also logged the sixth fastest time overall in the 4 x 10 km team relay, helping the U.S. team secure fifth place — the best Olympic finish for the U.S. cross-country team in history. In 2003, Freeman finished sixth and fifth in two consecutive World Cups, and finished 22nd in the 15 km classic at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy.”
While managing his disease can take time and patience Freeman continues to prove that diabetes does not have to prevent you from achieving your dreams.