KATUSHA x Little Bleeders, with Alex Dowsett
Why did you choose cycling as your sport? Was it a passion passed down from your parents, or from your childhood sporting hero? Did it develop from using the bike as a method of getting from A to B? Perhaps there was a goosebumps experience watching a sprint finish of the Tour de France and the obsession grew from there?
Like many young people living with Haemophilia, Team KATUSHA ALPECIN pro rider, Alex Dowsett picked up a road bike as a risk averse alternative sport and to satisfy his competitive nature, it was also to challenge the perceptions of having to wrap up haemophiliacs in cotton wool.
Haemophilia is a condition that affects the blood’s ability to clot due to the lack of an essential protein, or clotting factor needed to prevent excessive bleeding. Those with the condition must be cautious and avoid bumps or falls as these can cause prolonged bleeding, easy bruising and/or internal bleeding inside the joints. Treatments include medicines that can prevent excessive bleeding and joint and muscle damage and injection therapy with regular injections of clotting factor medicine. When combined with physiotherapy and regular exercise, these treatments can be very effective in managing the condition.
Growing up can be a challenging time particularly for young people who have haemophilia. Unfortunately for young people with bleeding disorders in the UK there are additional challenges faced around social attitudes and a lack of public knowledge and inconsistent approaches to treatment and care.
Team KATUSHA ALPECIN rider, Alex Doswett, is the only known elite professional sportsman with haemophilia. With the small amount of free time a career in road bike racing leaves him, he dedicates a portion to Little Bleeders: a charity dedicated to supporting young people with bleeding disorders, by spreading awareness of the need for young people with Haemophilia to have the support and empowerment they need to ‘move more and be more’.
Little Bleeders encourage young people and their families to lead active lives and participate in sport, particularly swimming and cycling (less risky than the likes of rugby and football), as a way of managing their condition. They support the notion that despite their condition, they can lead fulfilling, healthy and normal lives.
In the UK, not all children are as fortunate as Alex was growing up with the condition. Although the situation is improving, many still do not receive the mental and physical support they need and deserve. Little Bleeders are working hard to change this!
“Not every child will reach Alex’s extraordinary level of achievement, but our goal has to be about minimising the marginalisation of children with bleeding disorders. Alex and others are now showing us what’s possible. We need to focus on inclusion, not exclusion,” explained Dr Dan Hart, consultant haematologist at The Royal London Hospital Haemophilia Centre.
In support of Alex Dowsett’s haemophilia charity, Little Bleeders, and designed in collaboration with him, we are excited to launch the Little Bleeders Jersey. The jersey is now available online and we will donate 15 euros from each sale to the charity.
Photo credit: Peloton Brief