When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the Tokyo Summer Olympics and threatened everything that Alizée Agier had been working toward, she knew that it was another challenge that she would have to surmount.
You see, Agier has been here before.
When you win the French national karate title at 17, things are going pretty well. The possibility to make a living out in the sport you love — the dream of so many — seems suddenly within your grasp.
But it hasn't been smooth sailing for Agier.
Two years after her first national title, a headache during training turned into a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Suddenly the path, the future, the opportunities, everything she had worked for, were in doubt.
There were changes to come and things to learn about how to adapt to her physical needs while still training and competing at the highest level.
"I really realized that my life was going to change because I was training every day," she said. "It's not really easy. So, I had to make adjustments to my treatment and to my life, but I was trying to stay as positive as possible."
Agier persevered. Just a year after her diagnosis, she was a European and world champion.
"I remember being on the top step of the podium with my medal and hearing the national anthem. It was a really, really amazing feeling," she said. "I will never forget it."
Support from her team and family was a crucial part of helping Agier realize her dreams. That and the toughness that comes with being a karate champion.
It was the perfect preparation for a challenge that the world couldn't have imagined a year ago.
Dreams put on hold.
Lives and routines turned upside down.
The pandemic has touched every one of us in different but profound ways. For Agier, it was another barrier in pursuit of her dream of an Olympic gold medal.
With Tokyo postponed, with her training center closed, with workouts with her team prohibited, Agier needed to again figure out how to adapt and how to stay on track in the face of uncertainty.
A funny thing happened for Agier as she trained at her parents' home while figuring out how to piece together a plan for a situation that nobody around her had ever faced. She realized that her experience could help others, particularly those with diabetes struggling to cope with the effects of COVID-19 — the isolation, the uncertainty, the frustration.
Agier started sharing messages of positivity and hope, of how she overcame setbacks and of how she manages her diabetes.
She shared her experiences and the places that she has found strength.
She shared the tools, like our FreeStyle Libre technology, that has allowed her to continue to train in France at the highest level and manage her diabetes.
"I think both work together, my life has an athlete and my life as someone living with Type 1 diabetes. I know me. Diabetes helps me in karate because I know my body. And karate helps me with my treatment because I have to get very serious about my lifestyle. There are some athletes who come to me to ask me questions. It's really important for me to help them to achieve their goals, to dream big, and not to stop sports because of type 1 diabetes. It's really important to live your life, and live your life like before you were diagnosed with diabetes."
Through the pandemic, communities and individuals have proved their resilience, emerging stronger than before and adapting to new ways of working, socializing, playing and, as is the case for Agier and millions of other athletes everywhere, training and competing.
Agier's message is a simple one that will resonate with anyone during these times: Times are tough, and so are you!