People to Know 2016: Michael Agyin
Michael Agyin may not be an Olympian, but with three marathons, 45 half marathons, and countless 5K and 10K races under his belt, he has the heart of one. At age 5, he was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss. At 33, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. “I felt ashamed, scared,” he says. “Already being deaf, I didn’t know if I could deal with another health issue.”
Michael decided to take control. A slow walk around his Compton, California, neighborhood turned into a jog, which turned into a run. In three months, Michael lost 60 pounds, eliminating his need for insulin and blood pressure medication, providing him with a sense of control, and giving him the will to live. “It made me feel free,” he says. “I ran so far that diabetes can’t catch me.”
Like the athletes I coach, Michael learned how his blood glucose responded to exercise and kept his meter close for pre- and post-workout checks. The key to success in any athletic endeavor is consistency, and for Michael, success in running requires a way of life that sustains training. He fuels his body with healthy foods as part of his lifestyle overhaul. And he’s not looking back.
Now 37, Michael possesses perseverance, an infectious positive attitude, and a humble desire to give back to people with disabilities. He founded Bless your Sole, an organization that donates gently used athletic shoes to people with diabetes, deafness, and other disabilities. “Running saved me, and I just wanted to pass that blessing to others,” he says.
Michael’s next goal? Run an ultramarathon, a 30- to 100-mile endurance race, and qualify for the track and field team for the 2017 Deaflympics in Samsun, Turkey. He may just be an Olympian yet.
Michael’s Bucket List
√ Complete 45 half marathons
√ Complete 3 marathons
__Run an ultramarathon
__Qualify for Deaflympics
Krista Austin, PhD, is a physiologist who works with amateur and professional athletes, including those with diabetes. She lives in San Diego.