Judo: Diabetes no barrier for battling Gray

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A SCOTTISH judoka has overcome diabetes to earn national recognition in the sport.

Michael Gray, 22, has been selected for JudoScotland’s elite performance programme and aims to fight at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Gray, from Edinburgh, was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes at the age of two. Since then, he has battled the condition to 
become one of the top judoka in the country. His intensive sporting regime is built around a 
diabetes management programme that involves nine insulin injections a day. The adrenalin rush before a contest means that, before he fights an opponent, he first has to wrestle with his condition.

Gray said: “As any judo player knows, the minutes before you step on to the mat get the adrenalin pumping – probably a combination of the fear and excitement. It also gives me a medical challenge. I monitor my blood sugar constantly and it shoots up in the period before a fight because the adrenalin releases glucose into the system. It means that, when I’m injecting insulin before a fight, I have to increase my dose appropriately.”

Gray took up judo after achieving success in other sports. As a teenager, he was a 100 metre sprinter for Scotland and, aged 16, he took up Thai Kickboxing professionally. He has made rapid progress in judo after taking it up just three years ago at the Edinburgh Bushido Club.

He is now coached by Euan Burton, David Somerville and Billy Cusack at JudoScotland’s Ratho training centre. Michael fights at -100kg and is in the process of securing the ranking points required to represent Scotland at Glasgow 2014.

Gray added: “Any success I achieve is rewarding for a number of reasons. One of them is most definitely the fact that it demonstrates that diabetes shouldn’t be a barrier to living life to the full.

“I know that, when I was growing up, I would look at people like Sir Steve Redgrave, who is diabetic, and I’d see them succeed in sport and think: ‘If they can do it, then so can I’.”