At the age of eleven, Fabian Bleck received the shocking diagnosis: type 1 diabetes. The insulin pump has been his constant companion ever since. But that didn’t stop him from his dream: Today he plays basketball in Germany’s top division for Crailsheim.
Solid, ambitious, determined – his teammates know what they have in Fabian Bleck. “Everyone in the team needs a player like that,” they all agree. His nickname in the team: “Mister Perfect”.
Since last season, the 27-year-old has been successful for the Merlins Crailsheim in the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) – and extremely disciplined. Not just because he’s a professional athlete. Often you can see him with a meter and glucose on the sidelines. Discipline is vital for him: he has diabetes.
Basketball Family Bleck
The now 2.01 meter tall Westphalian made his first litters at the age of ten in his hometown of Breckerfeld in North Rhine-Westphalia. While many boys at this age emulate their father, Fabian and his brothers followed in their mother’s footsteps: they all went to basketball.
A year and a half later, at the age of eleven, there was a bitter setback: Fabian Bleck was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The diagnosis had already emerged: constant fatigue, extreme thirst, weight loss. A shock for him and his family. Still not an obstacle for the athlete: Fabian Bleck cannot be denied his big goal of becoming a professional basketball player. He is making his way through the U-national teams and has been playing in the BBL since the 2012/13 season.
Insulin as a constant companion
At first glance you don’t see what makes Fabian Bleck different from his teammates. But it is vital for him and his constant companion: the insulin pump.
The small device keeps him alive 365 days a year. It is connected to a catheter in the thigh through a tube. So insulin is supplied every hour. The 27-year-old can use a chip in his thigh to measure his current blood sugar level and, if necessary, increase the insulin dose using the pump.
“All of basketball Germany knows that I am diabetic”
Fabian Bleck is very open about his illness. “It is now known in all of basketball Germany that I am diabetic,” he says in an interview with SWR Sport. Diabetes is now a part of him.
In the Bundesliga duel, the basketball player takes off his insulin pump. Otherwise the risk of injury to the other players would be too high, for example they could get caught on the hose. For Bleck it is a calculable danger: He comes into play with an increased blood sugar level, as the level goes down during exercise. If he should feel bad meanwhile, he gives a signal to the trainer and can take a short break to scan the small chip on his leg and measure his blood sugar level. If it is too low, there are always bars, glucose or bananas on the bench. If necessary, he can also briefly connect his pump and administer insulin.
All or nothing
Fabian Bleck is a determined guy. In his business administration studies, which he is doing alongside sports, he can also be lazy, as he admits in an interview. With his studies he wants to build up a second mainstay for himself after his career. “You can do anything with it or nothing at all,” he laughs, referring to the time after his basketball career.
But it is definitely not over yet. The basketball player Bleck is happy to accept the extra work that diabetes brings with it. Because it keeps him alive and helps him to fulfill his dream: to be at the forefront of German basketball.