There’s nothing you can’t do – but listen to your healthcare professionals. That’s the message from para table tennis ace Simon Heaps on World Diabetes Day.

Former European Cadet champion Heaps has in recent years had both his legs amputated as a result of type 1 diabetes. He now competes in a wheelchair and is currently No 28 in the Class 5 world rankings.

He has won medals at a number of international para tournaments including (pictured above) in Saudi Arabia in August, where he won singles and mixed doubles bronzes just days before his 68th birthday.

World Diabetes Day is on November 14 every year. To find out find more about it and about the condition, visit the Diabetes UK website.

Heaps, who also competes on the VETTS circuit, said: “I’ve been diabetic for about 56 years. It’s something I’ve had to live with all my life, so from that point of view, nothing’s really changed from day to day, other than noticing the improvements for all diabetics today.

“Now, I wear a sensor on my arm which links to my phone and I’m convinced that if I’d had that when I was younger, I’d have two legs today.

“Obviously, you can’t go back, but the treatment today has changed for the better. The warnings you get about limb loss or eyesight loss are so much better. It’s usually the extremities that are affected.

“If someone asked would I rather lose my legs or my eyesight, I’d say my legs all day long. It’s not stopped me doing anything – I can drive a hand-controlled car and I’m travelling around the world to play, nine times out of 10 by myself.”

Heaps played arguably the shot of the tournament at the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships last season, as seen in this video:

But it is not just competing in table tennis that has been on his agenda – last year he did a 12,000ft tandem skydive for charity.

He said: “The instructor had done 2,300 jumps and I was the first double amputee he’d had. I probably wouldn’t have done that if I’d had two legs, but it took me out of my comfort zone and I was doing it for charity, so I didn’t want to let them down.

“So, it’s not stopped me doing things. You’ve got to be very careful with your diet and general health and listen to proper advice, but there’s nothing you can’t do – it’s only when you don’t do what you’re told that there’s a problem.

“That’s the message – if you listen to your healthcare practitioners, because they know best, diabetes shouldn’t hamper you.”

He also recently spoke to the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation about his life and table tennis career. Click here to read the article.

Next stop for Heaps on the international scene is the World Abilitysport Games in Thailand next month. The Games is a biennial multi-sport event which aims to give aspiring athletes their first taste of international competition and older athletes the chance to continue competing.