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Strong People - Sam Barnard

Strong People

Sam Barnard has written his story for Strong People this week. He gives us a detailed and fascinating insight into how he deals with his diabetes on competition day and how he has found the Strongman community so supportive.

In 2003 at eleven years of age I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. A condition which many people see as a disability, but me, I have always seen this as something that will give me the ability and drive to become the best person I can be.

Since hitting the gym at 15-16 I have always strived to stay fit and healthy. I would train 4-5 times a week and had very little body fat. Then I got to uni, between alcohol, clubbing and kebabs I quickly turned from athletic to well, not so much!

At 20 years old I decided to get back into rugby and joined Huddersfield YMCA RUFC. I got the drive back again, I was playing for the 1st and 2nd team as a prop and wanted to be bigger, faster and stronger than everyone else. So I joined up to a budget gym started to get more active and shred some fat. I had to get really creative with lifts and weights until I outgrew that gym. This was the point where I really got into lifting heavy, began focusing less on cardio and more on weights. Around the same time I met my now wife, Emily, she has been amazing, she has supported me with everything that I’ve wanted to do and has always been there 100% to back me up whether that be studying, marathons or Strongman.

At 24 years old I managed to get the job that I’d aspired too for so long, I am a Paediatric Diabetes Specialist Nurse, this spurred me on even more as I wanted to show all those I work with that diabetes will absolutely not hold me or anyone else back. 

Up until I was 26 I was training regularly, then on 28th of October my wife gave

birth to our little boy. This changed my whole perspective on life, I now wasn’t just doing things, I was doing things to show him how much he could do. My aim is to show him that any adversity he comes up against he can tackle head on!

Probably like many I started following Eddie Hall and watching his epic world records, then got into Strongman. I got a little bit hooked, reading, watching videos etc. Then in July 2019 I went to see Worlds Strongest Man. I was in my element but I wanted to be competing, I didn’t care how or how many people were there I just wanted to compete. So I came away, got straight onto Clean and Pressed and started looking for a competition.

I got in touch with Kaos Strength Gym, they messaged back pretty much instantly and I fired a load of questions at them and they were so helpful. I thought about it for ages and then my wife pulled the trigger and sent off the entry fee! 

At the time of the competition we were moving house plus we have a teething ten month old as well as work, I didn’t manage to get much intense training in. I was training in my back garden and running up the local hills with my son and 40KG on my back. The first time I tried Atlas Stones was when I was competing.

Diabetes does not hold me back and only spurs me on to complete whatever I try to do, I need to prove that just because I don’t produce insulin doesn’t mean there is anything else I can’t do but this doesn’t mean it wasn’t challenging. This is a breakdown of what I had to do with my diabetes on competition day:


Diabetes Strongman Competition Day Time Line

This is a breakdown of the main steps but generally my wife and I were checking my sensor every 15-20 minutes and adjusting my insulin background throughout the day.

I managed to place 4th which I was over the moon with.

I honestly couldn’t have done any of his without my wife screaming and cheering me on and going above and beyond to help me try and achieve what I set out to do. Whether that is feeding me jelly babies or helping me strap my cannula’s and blood glucose sensors so they don’t get ripped out, she’s a diamond. 

In my opinion – Strongman is 50% physical and 50% psychological. You need to be focused and believe in yourself 100%. Believing in yourself is difficult, surrounding yourself with people who believe in you is extremely important. What amazed me about this competition was that there was 17 people competing against each other but yet every single person wanted every other person to win, everyone cheered and got behind every single lift to push that person as much as possible – what a community that is!!


Thank you Sam for sharing your story and keep us updated on how your future competitions go. If you would like to follow his progress then you can find him on Instagram @barnybarnyard

To tell us your story please have a look at our Strong People page for guidelines, ideas and how to submit your article.