BY SAM MUNDAY
2020. No one saw this season coming and it really has been a terrible one with racing stopping from March – July for everyone. But for me, things are playing out a little differently. If my crash had happened in a different season, it would have been a tremendous set back physically and incredibly challenging to deal with mentally.
But let me back up because I’ve dealt with set backs before.
I was 11 years old. Everything happened so suddenly. I returned home from school camp, and my parents noticed something wasn’t right. I’d been quite sick and lost seven kilograms at the camp.
I would always ride my mountain bike a couple of kilometers to school and back but when I returned from camp, I could barely make it home one afternoon. I was so tired. I literally fell asleep at the dinner table.
The doctors didn’t pick anything up in the tests. But my mom suspected that I had type 1 diabetes and requested a blood test, which they weren’t originally going to do. My sugar levels were alarmingly high when the results came back, and I was rushed to the hospital.
I’d never heard of type 1 diabetes before.
I tried surrounding myself with positive people because early in my diagnosis, I was told I can’t do sports. My soccer coach and others were afraid of the risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugars). They made me feel like I was more of a liability than an asset to them.
I loved most sports and played football for 12 years but when I started riding with my father and brother, I just fell in love with cycling.
I found out about Team Novo Nordisk through Justin Morris who previously raced for the team. He also has type 1 diabetes and raced professionally for five years. I got in contact with him through a diabetes educator back home in Australia.
Meeting him gave me quite a bit of inspiration and a hope that I could one day make a career out of cycling.
Up until then, doctors were quite negative. They didn’t encourage me to do any sports. Hearing from him that anyone with diabetes can be a professional athlete was a real moment of clarity for me. I was 13 years old, and he was at once an inspiration to me.
Over the next three or four years, I focused on school while doing local racing. Then I got invited to the team’s Talent ID camp where I was asked to join the junior development team for some racing in 2017.
Coming across Justin and Team Novo Nordisk has shaped my life and made a dream come true for me. The only disappointment I have is losing my uncle a few years ago before he got to see me turn professional.
Losing him is probably one of the hardest things I’ve been through. We were very close. He loved cycling, and that gives me extra motivation when I’m racing or training and things get hard. I remember he always supported everything I did. He would have loved seeing me end up being a professional.
I think of him and also my grandfather, who I also sadly lost to cancer, when I go through difficult moments like the last few weeks.
I’ve learnt through being on this team for a few years, there’s always a reason to dig extra deep in racing, training and rehab because you’re not just doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for the millions of others who are inspired by what we do.
It was the second day of our training camp post lockdown. We were one hour into the ride and doing individual efforts when I’d had an accident with a car. I remember everything up until hitting the car. Then I remember coming round to my teammates and managers trying to get me to breathe and relax while the ambulance was on the way.
And then it was determined I needed to be airlifted to the hospital. I was in so much shock and pain. It was quite a traumatic experience for everyone, especially for my teammates who were at the scene. They were quite shaken up.
I had three fractures in my pelvis. My right lung collapsed, my collarbone shattered and separated the AC joint in the shoulder. Oh, and three ribs broke as well.
The doctors said I’m extremely lucky to be alive.
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It's been a week now since my nasty crash involving a car whilst training here in Italy. I'm incredibly thankful for the amazing support I've received from the medical staff, family, friends and most importantly my team, and 'family' @teamnovonordisk 🙌 I'm more motivated than ever to get back to 100% as soon as possible, and translate this fighting spirit back out on the bike.
I’ve been positive throughout the rehab. I know it could have been worse. Since coming out of the hospital, the progress I’ve made every day has helped keep me motivated. From being able to take my first steps again to nearly walking comfortably.
I almost have 90% mobility back in my hip and shoulder. Those changes remind me, things are going to be alright. Hopefully, it’s just a matter of weeks before I can ride on the road again.
I’ve learnt through being on this team for a few years, there’s always a reason to dig extra deep in racing, training and rehab because you’re not just doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for the millions of others who are inspired by what we do. It’s so special, and no other team in the peloton has a mission like ours.
That’s one of the most special things and reminds me why I’m so passionate about the sport. Our mission at the team brings such inspiration to other people living with diabetes. I remember first discovering having the disease and now I get contacted almost daily through social media from someone reaching out with support.
It inspires me to keep doing and loving what I do.
I remember my first meetings with Justin and how the words “anything is possible” resonated with me.
Right now, as I continue my recovery, I think about my dream, to win a big race with the Team Novo Nordisk Changing Diabetes jersey on and show the world anything is possible. To put my hands up in a big UCI race would be amazing. That’s my big dream.