Kris Freeman hopes for first U.S. cross-country medal since 1976; health issues plagued 2006 Olympic bid
INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kris Freeman is back in the hunt for an Olympic medal in Vancouver after being named today to the U.S. ski team following a disappointing finish at the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy. Freeman, who is expected to compete in up to five events at the 2010 Games in February, suffers from type 1 diabetes, a form of the disease where the body does not produce insulin needed to regulate blood sugar. Freeman is sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly), which makes the insulin that he depends on as a life-saving treatment.
Freeman is expected to compete for a medal in as many as five Olympic events spanning the breadth of the Vancouver Games, including the 15 km freestyle, the individual sprint, the 30 km pursuit, the team sprint, and the 50 km mass start classic. Bill Koch won a silver medal in cross-country skiing in the 1976 Innsbruck Games in Austria, the only American to have medaled in the sport.
A key marker on Freeman's comeback trail is how he is now treated for type 1 diabetes. To compete in the 2010 Games, Freeman will wear a small device, called an insulin pump, which provides an adjustable supply of insulin to help manage his diabetes even while racing.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000 at age 19, Freeman was told he would never be able to compete as an Olympian because of his diabetes.
"I'm motivated to win for my country and myself, but to also prove to detractors that it's possible to compete against the world's best cross-country skiers, even with type 1 diabetes," said Freeman.
Freeman's return to elite competition is even more anticipated after he contracted the flu during the 2006 Games and underwent surgery in both legs last spring to alleviate debilitating pain caused by a rare muscle disorder called compartment syndrome.
Off the snow, Freeman focuses on diabetes education. He travels for sponsor Eli Lilly and Company to children's diabetes camps across the U.S. to speak to campers about their disease. To date, he has met with more than 3,000 youngsters nationwide.
"I have a blast meeting the campers, but more importantly, I want them to see that a person with diabetes can do almost anything he or she puts his mind to, including competing in the Olympics," said Freeman.
In competition, Freeman is a 13-time U.S. National cross-country champion and recently had his best finish at the 2009 World Championships and the best U.S. finish in any cross-country event in more than two decades. He came in fourth in November's World Cup 15 km classic in Kuusamo, Finland.
At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Freeman placed 22nd in the 15 km classic and 14th in the 30 km pursuit. He also logged the sixth fastest time overall in the 4 x 10 km team relay, helping the U.S. team secure fifth place -- the best Olympic finish for the U.S. cross-country team in history. In 2003, Freeman finished sixth and fifth in two consecutive World Cups, and finished 22nd in the 15 km classic at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy.
For more information about Freeman's work with Lilly, please visit www.lillydiabetes.com. For the full 2010 U.S. Olympic cross-country event schedule visit www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-cross-country-skiing.
About Lilly Diabetes
For more than 85 years, Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) has been a worldwide leader in pioneering industry-leading solutions to support people living with and treating diabetes. Lilly introduced the world's first commercial insulin in 1923, and remains at the forefront of medical and delivery device innovation to manage diabetes. Lilly is also committed to providing solutions beyond therapy -- practical tools, education and support programs to help overcome barriers to success along the diabetes journey. At Lilly, the journey of each person living with or treating diabetes inspires ours. For more information, visit www.lillydiabetes.com.
About Eli Lilly and Company
Eli Lilly and Company, a leading innovation-driven company, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers -- through medicines and information -- for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Information about Lilly is available at www.lilly.com.
SOURCE Eli Lilly and Company