A student at the University of Wales Newport is beating diabetes after becoming one of the first athletes in the UK to be fitted with a special insulin pump to help her fulfil her ambition of winning Olympic gold – and has already sprinted to silver medal success.
Melanie Stephenson was laid low by diabetes for several months but recently made a remarkable come-back to win a silver medal at the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) championships, achieving a personal best of 24.60 in the 200 metres.
Now she has her sights set on competing in the Commonwealth Games later this year and then hopes to be
selected for the 2012 Olympics.
“I feel this is a huge personal achievement as I’ve been out of sport for months because of my diabetes,” said 21-year-old fashion design student Melanie who took up running to keep fit when she was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 13.
Melanie’s problems began in March 2009 when she found she had become insulin resistant after having up to10 injections a day. She had to stop all her athletics training as she was too ill to continue.
“My blood sugar levels were very erratic and often high. I felt very lethargic and constantly thirsty,” she said. “After being out of action for seven months I was fitted with a hi-tech new insulin pump to help me control my diabetes. With the help of this amazing device I’m able to compete again.”
Melanie, who has been winning medals and trophies since she started competing in athletics at school, added, “I originally took up running as a way to control my weight and stay healthy and active. I found I really enjoyed it and started to take it seriously.”
Since then she has gone from strength to strength, running both for Newport’s University – where she is a member of the Elite Sports Squad – and for Wales.
“It’s hard juggling my studies with training which I have to fit around my work at uni. We do long hours in the fashion department and I’m currently preparing my collection for the graduation fashion show which will be held at the Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre from 19th – 21st May,” she added.
Melanie has created six stylish outfits of high performance sportswear which incorporate solutions for problems such as helping to combat asthma among athletes.
Her ambition is to apply for the newly validated Masters degree in Sportswear at the University’s Smart Clothes and Wearable Technology research centre, and then go on to create her own
brand of designer sportswear.
For details of Fashion Design, Sports Studies and all other courses at the University of Wales, Newport, contact the University Information Centre on 01633 432432 or visit http://www.newport.ac.uk.