In the first of a brand new initiative – FIMBA GB Stories – we look at the incredible story of Keith White, who defied the odds to make it back on court just 3 months after suffering a heart attack.
FIMBA GB Stories will be looking at some of the many inspirational and empowering stories within our teams, highlighting current issues faced by those young and old and how basketball and being part of the FIMBA GB Family has helped them overcome adversity.
Keith started playing basketball at the age of 18, progressing through various leagues and teams and practicing hard to improve, earning a place on the Newcastle National League Team by the age of 23. Keith continued to play until he reached his early 50s, when he retired from the game he loved.
At the age of 59, Keith decided to return to the sport when a friend had the idea of starting a club for players of an older age group and the Bald Eagles Basketball Club was born. Now back in the game, Keith saw an advert from FIMBA GB basketball looking for players 60 and over to try out to become part of a national team. The goal was to send the team to the FIMBA European championships in Spain in 2020. Keith went along to the trials in Manchester and was successful in being selected for the team. COVID impacted the schedule but in 2022 he represented Great Britain at the FIMBA European Championships in Malaga, Spain securing a 6th place finish.
Things were going well but they were about to take an unexpected turn.
Shortly after returning from the championships, Keith took ill while training at the Vertu Motors Arena. Fortunately thanks to the prompt actions of his team mates and the Arena staff, he was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed as having had a heart attack.
The Freeman Hospital performed an angiogram which revealed two partially blocked arteries. These were treated with a stent and an angioplasty and Keith was released from hospital soon after with a lifelong drug program. He was uncertain if he would ever be allowed to play again but working with the NHS staff a program of rehabilitation was put in place. Keith attended a number of controlled exercise classes where, under close supervision, workloads during exercise increased gradually over a number of weeks until he was given the all clear to resume play.
10 weeks after the heart attack Keith was back training locally, 3 months after that he was training with the FIMBA GB +60’s again and 6 months after that he competed at his second European Championships in Albufeira, Portugal, finishing 15th but having an even better experience than the year before.
FIMBA has given me opportunity to compete against players of my own age and the goal now is to continue training and aim to compete at the next FIMBA European Championships in Pesaro Italy, June 2024.Keith White
Thank you for sharing your incredible story, Keith. You are truly an inspiration and an incredible teammate. We are incredibly proud to have you as part of the FIMBA GB Family.