LOREN Bleaken is facing a daunting twin challenge this weekend, writes KEVIN FAHEY.
The Wiltshire champion is not only taking on the best 800m girls on the continent at the European U20 Championships in Italy but is also having to manage her diabetes condition.
The 17-year-old Hardenhuish School student will certainly have more on her mind that just racing when she arrives in Rieti after a whirlwind last week following her late call-up into the Great Britain team.
“Because I have diabetes the amount of (medical) stuff I have to take is huge,” said Bleaken, who lives in Marshfield.
“Of course the whole thing has blown up again with the recent positive drugs tests (for Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell).
“The use of insulin would fail a drugs test as it is a prohibited substance but it is the only treatment I can have for my diabetes.
“So that means I have had to print out loads of documents from doctors proving that I suffer from diabetes and that I have to take insulin.
“Luckily, my mum has been sorting out all the paperwork for me but there is a lot of it!”
Bleaken also needs to carry all her medical treatment, including syringes, with her as hand luggage so needs permission for that as well.
“I have travelled abroad before so it is not too bad going alone and the GB team will have doctor as well so that is reassuring,” said Bleaken.
“I always have extra things to think about but I have to deal with it and I am sure it will be fine because I have sorted my levels out and keep a close eye on them.”
If all goes to plan, Bleaken will be tackling three races in consecutive days – starting with heats today (Thursday), semi-finals and Saturday’s final – and the hot conditions may bring extra problems.
“The heat affects it (diabetes) quite a lot so I will have to monitor my levels carefully before and after racing,” said Bleaken.
“There is a lot to think about but I have talked it all through with mum and my diabetes nurse so I am fine about it.”
The prospect of taking on the best junior runners in Europe is her biggest challenge to date.
She said: “I am so excited and cannot wait to race. I am the eighth quickest runner in the field so my aim must be to make the final and run a personal best. It is about time I did that as my last one was in 2012.
“I’d like to do that for my coach (Adrian Clover) as he has been brilliant and we have gone through a lot since I joined him five years ago.”
ENFORD’S Nikko Hunt joins Wiltshire teammates Ellie-J Webb (Matravers School) and Grace Davies-Redmond (St Lawrence School, Bradford on Avon) at the British & Irish Schools’ Championships in Dublin this weekend.
The Dauntsey’s School pole vaulter, 15, won gold at the English Schools’ Championships earlier this month.
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