Getting to know … Tereza Jandová

In August 2022, Tereza Jandová's life changed from one day to the next. The biathlete from the Czech Republic was diagnosed with diabetes. On World Diabetes Day on November 14, she talks about how the disease affects her everyday life as an athlete.

For Tereza Jandová, every day starts with checking her blood sugar levels. As soon as she wakes up, she has to check her values before she can have breakfast. This procedure continues throughout the day. A measurement is taken before every meal and during training, as the values are particularly unstable.

Tereza Jandová has type 1 diabetes mellitus, a congenital autoimmune disease. Patients have a deficiency of the hormone insulin and therefore must regularly check their blood sugar levels and inject themselves with insulin. Around 425 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, with type 2 being significantly more common at over 90 percent. In type 1 diabetes, insulin is not produced at all and must be injected. This particularly affects children and adolescents. In type 2 diabetes, too little insulin is produced or the effect of the insulin on the cells is impaired. This is more common as adult.

Never thought about quitting sport

In August 2022, Tereza Jandová noticed how her body suddenly changed. "I drank over eight liters of water in one day because I was so thirsty. I also had vision problems," explains the 22-year-old. The doctor then quickly discovered that she had diabetes. "That was very hard for me. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to do what I enjoy anymore."

Fortunately, this fear did not come true. Even though the first few weeks were difficult, and she first had to get used to the new routines, she has now been living with her illness for over a year and is coping well with it. Diabetes mostly concerns her when it comes to eating. Before every meal, she must calculate how much insulin she needs to inject. That's why it's also difficult for her to go to a restaurant, as she can't see what ingredients are in the food. At training camps, the Czech team often has a cook with them, so Tereza Jandová doesn't have to worry so much about her meals.

"I love cooking and baking and have been able to adapt well to my illness. But what hurts me is that I can no longer eat pizza and sweets because my body reacts sensitively to them." She wasn't afraid of the syringe she uses to inject insulin into her arm. "I have a few tattoos and piercings, so the injection wasn't a problem for me." She also never doubted whether she could continue to be a biathlete. The love for her sport was stronger. What annoys her, are interruptions to her training, because her blood sugar levels fluctuate a lot while she's doing sport. "I'm really fed up with that. But luckily my coaches and teammates are very supportive, so I can still get through my training."

Be a role model

Tereza Jandová wants to encourage people that competitive sport with diabetes is possible. She shares her everyday life between training, injections, and leisure time on her social media channels. She writes about how her body has changed, when she has doubts and what equipment she needs when traveling to have enough insulin with her. "It's important to me to show that there are also bad days and that it's totally okay to be overwhelmed sometimes."

At the same time, she wants to educate people about diabetes and dispel stereotypes. For the upcoming season, she hopes to be able to run the entire competition calendar. Last season was full of light and shade for her. She switched back and forth between the IBU Cup and the IBU Junior Cup. She had to end the season early because she had a foot injury. "I don't base the success of my season on results. I want to skate compete the whole season. But I must look from race to race. Diabetes can always surprise me, but I will fight."

Photos: Tereza Jandová

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