Giving it his best shot

Published date18 November 2021
Publication titleSouthland Express
The Diabetes New Zealand John McLaren Youth Scholarship would provide him with the finance required for him and a parent to travel to the meeting.

“It basically means it gives me a shot at the biggest athletic competition in all of New Zealand.”

Less time would be spent fundraising for the $6000-$7000 a year annual costs associated with competing outside of Southland.

William’s mother, Rachel, said the travel and accommodation costs often placed additional financial demands on athletes and their families. However, in the Robertsons’ case, costs were doubled as he still needed a parent to accompany him to assist with his care.

He was better able to focus on the competition while the second person monitored his physical health and assisted with meals.

The Diabetes NZ John McLaren Youth scholarships seek to encourage young New Zealanders with diabetes to achieve their goals despite the continual daily challenges they faced.

Since March 2021, Robertson holds the Southland under-14 record for 100m and 200m sprint — shattering the previous 200m record set in 1987.

Additionally, the 15-year-old won the South Island Secondary Schools 100m race; placed first in long jump — falling just 2cm short of breaking the South Island record; placed second in the triple jump; and claimed the JHC under-15 long jump record.

People liked having him in their relay team as he had a knack of catching up to people, Mrs Robertson said.

“It helps having people in front of you because it makes you run faster,” William said.

William was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 8 years old after his mother queried his pattern of extreme thirst, frequent urination and weight loss with the family doctor.

“The GP’s eyes went absolutely grim.”

Blood tests were immediately completed and they were told to head directly to hospital to be admitted.

“We weren’t even offered the chance to go home first,” he said.

Mrs Robertson believes her son was saved from a significantly worse outcome.

“We were lucky we caught it that fast, because kids aren’t [always] that fortunate.”

Children could often be in a coma and have severe brain damage before the life-threatening disease was detected, she said.

For the past year, William has slept with a monitoring alarm to prevent his blood sugars dropping to life-threatening levels in his sleep. Failure to adequately control blood sugars could easily result in a coma or death.

“With low blood sugars, things can change pretty fast,” Mrs Robertson said.

His fitness level...

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