Álex Ruiz is 24 years old and for several seasons he has represented Malaga in the elite section of world padel. Like many of those who play racquet sports, Álex, from Alhaurín, started playing tennis before taking up this alternative sport. He is currently in 27th place in the World Padel Tour classification and has many active years ahead of him.
Now, however, he has taken a different step to talk about an aspect of his personal life of which most people are unaware, and he wants to use his position as an athlete to help other people. He has revealed that he is diabetic and has suffered from this chronic illness since he was ten years old. He has learned to control it, in order to be an elite athlete.
He has decided to talk about his experience with Type One diabetes for the first time to raise awareness of the fact that it has not held him back in his career and to demonstrate to children with diabetes that they can lead a totally normal life and not be restricted in terms of sport, as long as they eat properly and keep the diabetes under control.
"The idea came from a friend of mine, Álvaro López, who helps me with social media. His partner's daughter is diabetic, and he suggested that it would be a good idea for me to tell my story," says Álex, speaking from Madrid where he is training for the World Padel Tour in Logroño.
"I have had diabetes since I was ten, so I have had it for most of my life and I wasn't sure how I could help. I have never talked about it before, but they said it would be a way of helping other people who are in the same situation," he explains.
Using the hashtag #Soydiabético, Álex (@11alexruiz)has started to post videos about his personal experience on Twitter. "There are families with diabetic children who have doubts about whether they should do sport or whether there is any risk of it affecting their sugar levels. My experience is that with good control and behaving responsibly you can compete at top level with no problem.
"For me, diabetes has helped me to mature, to know my body better, and to know what my needs are at certain times when I'm competing or training," he says.
Álex, who plays for the Adidas Padel Team, admits that he is amazed by the response he has received since his videos were posted online.
"I never imagined they would be so well received, honestly. Reading some of the messages brought tears to my eyes, for example when parents have said my story will be such a help to their child. It makes me feel very emotional. I'm going to try to help the people who have written to me as much as I can," he says.
For the moment he is planning to post a series of videos with anecdotes and advice about how he manages his diabetes.
When asked whether his illness has never affected his performance, Álex is sincere. "I have to control myself much more than other colleagues. It's true that if my sugar level drops my performance is not the same, but that's something I have to live with. It isn't going to hold me back. It's just a case of dealing with it," he says.