Brais Dacal did not allow Type 1 diabetes to limit his dreams. Diagnosed a diabetic at the age of seven, he went on to embrace his condition through sports, by becoming a professional cyclist. Since then, he has been reaching out to persons with diabetes to help them overcome the challenge.
An international cyclist, 26-year-old Mr. Dacal has participated in professional races for a number of years, simultaneously taking forward diabetes education to people across the globe. He was in the city to take part in an event at Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre.
“Of course, the journey was not easy,” he said, adding: “It was difficult in the beginning. But with hard work, I learned to live with diabetes. People think diabetes is a disease that stops us from living what is called a normal life. That is not true.”
Hailing from Spain, he started riding when he was three years old and started to compete at the age of 15. An ambassador for Team Novo Nordisk, a professional cycling team that comprises athletes with Type 1 diabetes, he has travelled to 35 countries, spreading the team’s mission to inspire, educate and empower persons with diabetes. “When I was diagnosed, it was a shock for my family and myself. But my mother worked hard. She taught me to keep fighting and pursuing my dream,” he said. He considers sports as one of the best tools to manage diabetes. “It is an essential part of our treatment and a fun way to stay healthy,” he observed.
A demanding sport
Professional cycling, he said, was a complicated and demanding sport. “It requires 24 hours and seven days a week work. We have to take care of what we eat, how we rest, how we train and make sure our body is ready for the big effort the sport requires,” he said.
Managing diabetes every day was an extra challenge for the team, he noted. Comprising 16 professional riders, the team competes in some of the best races in the world, he said, adding: “We want to not just show that we race at the best level, but also what is possible with diabetes. Having Type 1 diabetes does not stop you from being a professional athlete or having success in life.” He stressed on the need for young people to exercise regularly.
“There is a lot of stigma around diabetes. We want to defeat that,” he added.