by Gerrit Bester
To say that third-year Interior Design student Angelique Strijdom (21) balances her life as a national athlete and full-time student is a bit of an understatement; she is exceptionally good at both! In view of Youth Day (16 June), the inspiring sprinter who specialises in the 400m event, shares how she manages to juggle her demanding sports activities with her studies.
Angelique’s interest in athletics was sparked at primary school, where she mainly focused on long-distance events. In high school, she combined it with speed events before realising that the 400m event was "just perfect" for her.
In recent years, she has made quite a name for herself in this event, bagging several podium positions for both TUT and her country. Her most recent achievements in this regard are being selected to participate in Kenya for the Federation of Africa University Sports (FASU) Games as part of the TUT team; reaching the final at Senior SA’s (where she ran a personal best in the 400m); and being part of the TUT relay team that ran a new University Sports South Africa (USSA) record in the 4x400m relay event.
She is also included in the FASU squad to compete at the World Student Games hosted in China in August. "I will be participating in the 400m event and hopefully in the 4x400m relays as well. I don’t know about new records yet, but I’m confident that I can improve my personal best time (52.82) in the 400m. That’s the main goal!"
To be able to compete at this level, Angelique is subjected to a strict training schedule: six days a week for a minimum of two hours per day, mostly between 16:00 and 18:00. These training sessions alternate between light gym sessions and tough track and endurance sessions.
But how on earth does she balance her sports activities with her studies? "Time management," she stresses. "There is no other way. I plan ahead and make sure that I have enough time to do my schoolwork in between all my training sessions (and time for myself). Sometimes I feel the pressure, and it gets a lot, but then I cry about it for five minutes and move on. It’s not new to me. I’ve been doing it for most of my life; I just have to plan, plan, plan."
Angelique is honest about having almost no social life. "I have occasional coffee dates with friends on weekends, and I have a boyfriend (also an athlete), so we also hang out. Like any other girl, I enjoy shopping and going to the mall. I’m not one for going out at night, so on a Friday evening I’ll be binge-watching a Netflix series, which I find very relaxing," she adds.
Spending so much time in the fast lane, she easily gets impatient with people using the excuse, I don’t have the time. "I hear this a lot and never understand it. Sometimes, I also miss a class and fall behind, but I always ensure that I submit in time. University is very important to me, and I must finish it. This is the life I chose."
Asked why she decided to study Interior Design, and what the highlights of her studies have been thus far, she says that she has always had a passion for Interior Design. "I used to rearrange and decorate my bedroom repeatedly as a little girl. Highlights of my studies include being selected to participate in an international competition with some of the senior students in my second year, and being named best student in Professional Practice and Software in 2022."
Inge Newport, Head of the Department of Interior Design, says she is extremely proud of this star student’s achievements on and off the track and that she is a huge inspiration to her peers: “Angelique has shown incredible perseverance and dedication in her athletic and academic pursuits. I look forward to seeing how she uses her unique skills to carve a niche in the sports and fitness interior design sector. This dedication will stand her in good stead if she opts to open her own business one day. We want to congratulate Angelique on what she has achieved!”
In view of Youth Day, which will be celebrated on 16 June, Angelique has a special message to her fellow students: "Be energetic, hopeful, fearless, smart and determined. Our youth are the future of the country, and we must make the impossible possible. These are words I live by. It keeps me motivated and driven towards my goals."
After completing her current studies, Angelique plans to enrol for postgraduate studies or register for other courses, as long as she can run!
"One day, I also hope to be an accomplished designer and leader in this industry, thereby becoming an inspiration to others. I also want to travel the world and have lots of adventures."
We’ll be watching and cheering, Angelique!
Angelique Strijdom, an Interior Design student, is also a national athlete specialising in the 400m event.