Overcoming challenges: Gary Hall Junior’s guide

I was told that competing in the Olympics with diabetes isn’t possible. It had never been done. Discover Gary Hall Juniors story

5 mins to read
Gary Hall Jr.

By Gary Hall Junior, 10 time Olympic medalist, prominent diabetes advocate and MitoQ ambassador.

We all get knocked off our horse in this rodeo called life. Despite best attempts to hold on, we eventually get thrown. I got bucked with a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.

It came out of nowhere. I was an Olympian, one of the fastest swimmers in the world. I won two gold medals in the previous Olympic Games along with two silvers. Yet there I was, slumped in a doctor’s office being told that I would never compete again. I was told that competing in the Olympics with diabetes isn’t possible. It had never been done.

Living with Type 1 diabetes

I learned the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Oversimplified, Type 1 is an autoimmune disease and Type 2 is more lifestyle-related. I learned how to give myself shots of insulin, test my blood, and count out in my mind every carb I consumed. I found a more encouraging doctor and started to hatch an improbable idea. What if I made it back? What if it could be done? What if I could make that diabetes diagnosis a little less scary for some kid and their family? All I had to do was defy the doctors that said it couldn’t be done. I just had to defy diabetes and my stupid pancreas.

This defiant attitude didn’t stir in me right away. It was a hard fall. It took some time and determination to pull myself up. I had to manually do the job of my sick pancreas now. Miscalculate on insulin dosing and the results are disastrous, too often fatal. It’s difficult to do. Diet and exercise are paramount in management. How we take care of ourselves is critical.

I paid attention to diet before I was diagnosed. As a top-performing athlete, I ate a healthy diet. Suddenly I was clued in on fast carbs and slow carbs and how different forms of exercise had different results on blood glucose levels. I could, to a measurable result, see the difference between an English muffin versus a scone. The differences in aerobic versus anaerobic exercise and competitions were profound. Everything had to be constantly measured.

Competing in the Olympics with Type 1 diabetes

I became the first person with Type 1 diabetes in any sport to compete and medal in the Olympic Games. I earned the title of world’s fastest swimmer, winning the 50-meter freestyle, along with three other medals. To prove it wasn’t a fluke, I stuck around four more years and defended that title in the birthplace of the Olympic movement, Athens. I have a total of ten Olympic medals, six earned with diabetes. I used accomplishment in sport as a platform to advance diabetes research and worked on patient advocacy initiatives, combating rising drug prices and fighting for access to health insurance for people with preexisting conditions. I value scientific research.

There’s one part of this story about overcoming obstacles, and getting back on the horse, that I won’t overlook. I found that new doctor. She and her team of specialists empowered me with the tools and knowledge I required to make it back to the Olympic podium. It was not possible without that support or the support of my family and the diabetes community.

Taking a CoQ10 supplement

Years ago, I came across a blood glucose nutritional supplement that didn't work consistently, sometimes slamming my blood glucose faster than falling from a horse, or other times, nothing."

"When a friend told me about the MitoQ Blood Sugar supplement, I was like, "Where's the data? Where are they sourcing? How's the consistency?". And a lot of other questions.

CoQ10 was familiar to me. Athletes take supplements and I was aware of the benefits of antioxidants, Omega3, and branch chain amino acids. My friend informed me that the MitoQ supplement was something like 800 times more powerful at getting into the mitochondria than other CoQ10, a supplement I had taken for years.

As an Olympian, I had been approached by a very wide variety of nutritional supplement companies through the years. Too many had unsubstantiated claims with not enough research data to establish efficacy. I knew to be skeptical when someone talked excitedly about some miracle supplement.

I was very impressed with the quality and quantity of white papers and clinical trial data that MitoQ had. Shocked. It’s a huge investment that few nutritional companies make. The data far exceeded any other company I had come across in the space. I took a closer look, tried the product (for a long time), and, based on the results, excitedly became a spokesperson for MitoQ.

What’s your support? How are you taking care of yourself? Diet, nutrition, and cellular health are important for all of us, not just those of us managing health conditions or world-class athletes looking for an edge. I’m proud to share that MitoQ is how I am supporting my health, getting the most out of this rodeo called life.




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