Former Great Britain and England player Imran Sherwani has revealed he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2019.
Irman played in 94 internationals and was pivotal in Great Britain's Olympic gold medal success in 1988, scoring twice in the final. He first noticed symptoms in 2014, and as they worsened he had to retire from his job as a school Director of Hockey. He was eventually diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in December 2019, aged just 57.
Imran's international teammate Steve Batchelor is running this year's London Marathon to support Alzheimer's Research UK in Imran's honour. Both England Hockey and Great Britain Hockey have been in touch with Alzheimer's Research UK in recent weeks and look forward to sharing more details in the near future about how hockey clubs and players can help support this worthy cause.
Imran said: “At first my mood changed and I became withdrawn. I wanted to be on my own and not talk to people. I started to struggle with tasks that ordinarily I would be quick to do, such as DIY. I also had difficulties in my job, such as forgetting pupils’ names, which was very frustrating. We weren’t sure what was causing it and thought it might be stress. I was initially dismissive of it. I knew I needed help, but I found it difficult to admit it.
“Eventually it got to the point that I was on the edge of breaking down because the situation had put such a strain on me, so I went to the doctor. That led to a three-year journey of tests and brain scans until I was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I have gone from fighting the disease to accepting it, and that has made every day easier to live through. Every day of my life, I am thankful for having wonderful people around me, especially my lovely wife. I do not have fears about the future because I have always been very positive. I have had a brilliant life, I have achieved a lot in my career and with my family, so I can’t complain.”
The London Marathon team, who are aptly called ‘Going for Gold’, includes Imran’s son Zac. The team is also made up of other people connected to the 1988 team and people connected to Cranleigh School in Surrey where Steve Batchelor works.
Steve said: “All of the 1988 Olympics team are still very close but, as we were both forwards, I have a particularly close relationship with Imran. We are good friends and our families are close as well.
“When I heard he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s it was a shock. At the time I didn’t know a lot about Alzheimer’s. I thought of it as something older people get. I didn’t realise it could affect someone as young as Imran.
“You feel helpless when someone you are close to is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so putting together this team for the London Marathon is something positive I can do to help.
“The team has just grown and grown. Quite a few of the people involved in the team have their own connections to the cause, with family members and friends affected by dementia, so it shows how this is something that affects so many people.
“We are determined to raise as much money as we can for Alzheimer’s Research UK to help find breakthroughs so in the future people won’t have to go through what Imran and his family are going through.”
Imran added: “I’m so thankful to Steve and the team for raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. I’m looking forward to hopefully cheering everyone on at the marathon.
“I hope that dementia research can help improve diagnosis so other people won’t have to go through the lengthy and difficult process I went through, and that treatments can be found to help people in the future.”
If you would like to donate to the Going for Gold marathon team, please visit visit their JustGiving page here.