Diabetes, type 1 - Wasim Akram 

"After the shock, I took control" 

Cricket star Wasim Akram’s glittering career included a series of personal battles including numerous injuries, clearing his name after match-fixing allegations and, possibly his greatest challenge, coping with type 1 diabetes.

Wasim Akram, described as the Prince of Pakistan, was the natural successor to his great mentor Imran Khan. His skill with a cricket ball defied the laws of physics and when he retired after 20 years in the game, he left an indelible mark as a supreme all-rounder and the best one-day international player in history. 

Wasim was 30 when he was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes.

“I remember what a shock it was because I was a healthy sportsman with no history of diabetes in my family, so I didn’t expect it at all,” he recalls. “It seemed strange that it happened to me when I was 30, but it was a very stressful time and doctors said that can trigger it.”

The match-fixing allegations were at the heart of his stress. In a country fanatical about its national sport, Wasim was seen as a villain and his whole family felt the pressure as a result. He was eventually cleared, but he remembers that time vividly.

“I lost 8kg in a little over two months, but I put it down to hard training, drinking lots of water and sleeping a lot," says Wasim. I faced the West Indies in that condition. My father and my wife insisted I go to the doctor and he found my sugar level was sky-high.”

“I felt down at first but my wife, who qualified as a psychiatrist at UCL, helped me come to terms with it. I would advise anyone with diabetes to think positively. Adjust your lifestyle to fight it. Keeping fit and eating a very balanced diet have been crucial to keeping it under control and allowing me to continue playing. If you have control of your body, you're in control of diabetes. It's important to check blood sugar levels before meals and go for regular check-ups.”

Like many people with diabetes, Wasim has had to adapt his routine and learn to inject insulin, which he takes three times a day. He also takes herbal supplements. His retirement has given him the opportunity to relax and spend more time with his family.

“Obviously I'm resting a bit more at home now rather than living out of a suitcase. I still like to keep fit by playing with my kids and I play a lot of golf. I’m 38 now so I've been managing what I eat for almost eight years and it’s become part of my daily routine.”

Wasim knows his responsibilities as a parent and is doing all he can to keep his two children healthy. “It’s important that parents help their kids eat well and keep active, rather than watching TV and eating sweets.”

Page last reviewed: 17/07/2012

Next review due: 17/07/2014

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