This is from an interview Josef did (with his mum Kim) for the BTF newsletter in 2012 shortly after he was the youngest male to win a gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Later that year he was awarded BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year and an MBE in the 2013 New Year's Honours List for services to swimming.

In 2011 Josef was training with the goal of being part of team GB at the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016 when he was diagnosed with Graves’ disease.

Josef: I have a monthly weigh-in at the gym and one month my weight had gone down by five kilos which is substantial even though I was eating more than usual and eating crazy food. The doctor recommended I went for blood tests.

Kim: Jo was getting tired regularly but we put it down to growing pains. The doctor rang with the blood test results and explained his thyroid was over-active and that he should stop training until it was under control. It took a while to sink in and then I had to tell Jo he couldn’t take part in the competition he was training for.

Josef: When my thyroid was diagnosed I felt shocked. At first I wanted to ignore it and carry on swimming but I was starting to have heart flutters. It was scary! In hindsight there were other symptoms. I got a bit low and depressed at the Scottish nationals a month before I was diagnosed. I was following a strict regime but I couldn’t sleep even though I felt shattered so I was a wreck the next day. I was off my times and couldn’t control my emotions, and I was upset and angry. I was upset to have to cancel a competition but I said to myself if I get sorted I’m going to push myself harder and go for the London Paralympics!

Josef was prescribed carbimazole for a short time but he kept asking when he could go back to training.

Kim: The plan was for Jo to stay on carbimazole for two years but it seemed that most people needed either surgery or radioactive iodine after that anyway so Josef asked if he could have treatment right away, and the doctor agreed. Jo had a big say in what happened.

Josef is currently studying sports management at Northumbria University. He’s very happy and has no problems with his thyroid! His advice to other young people who are diagnosed is not to panic, your thyroid problem will be sorted out. It just may take a little bit of time.