Olympic hockey gold medalist Imran Sherwani has revealed he has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, after first noticing symptoms while in his early 50s.
Sherwani, who won gold with Great Britain at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, said he expects to eventually be unable to remember his sporting achievements.
He scored two goals in the men’s hockey final against West Germany, one of the most memorable moments from that year’s Games.
“Where, oh where were the Germans? And frankly, who cares?” screamed BBC commentator Barry Davies when Sherwani scored GB’s third goal in its 3-1 win.
Sherwani, 59, said he was diagnosed with the disease in 2019 but first noticed signs seven years ago.
Although Alzheimer’s is most common in people aged over 65, around one in 20 cases can affect people between 40 and 65, according to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).
“At first my mood changed and I became withdrawn. I wanted to be on my own and not talk to people,” Sherwani said.
“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,” he added.
When asked by the BBC on Wednesday whether he expects to forget the highlights of his sporting career, he added: “It will happen.”
Every day almost 600 people in the UK develop dementia, according to the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, which has partnered with Sherwani.
There are over 850,000 people in the United Kingdom living with dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, with over 42,000 people living with young-onset dementia – people whose symptoms started under the age of 65.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a decline in cognitive skills in older people, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the main cause.
Sherwani’s gold medal with the GB hockey team was one of five the country won in the 1988 Olympics.
The final match was one of the highlights of the competition’s slate and was widely watched in the UK.
It marked the first time GB had won gold in the men’s hockey discipline for 68 years.