People

Running pretty

Running pretty

Juggling pharmaceutical studies and a professional athletics career is not a piece of cake, but promising athlete Ariane Nel from Hartbeespoort firmly believes there is enough time for everything… you just have to put in the extra hours.

For most 21-year-olds life is about discovering life, socialising, partying and even some studying in between…. but for athlete Ariane Nel, there are only two goals – finishing her studies and qualifying for the coming Olympics. Only then will there be time for the things other young people take for granted. Ariane recently returned from the athletics world championships in London where she represented South Africa in the 4x400m relay team. For this pretty petite blonde, who looks more like a model than an athlete, running is as part of her life as breathing. “I have two priorities – athletics and studying, unfortunately in that order,” she laughs. “I know other students look a bit askance at me. I have supper with my few close friends on Mondays, but the rest of the time I am on the track or in front of the books. Running is my one great passion and I only have a few years to make my dream of competing in the Olympics come true.” Her recent participation in the world championships, has just fuelled her determination. “It was such an experience… suddenly there I was eating with Usain Bolt, one of my biggest heroes! Just to be in the presence of these people I have looked up to all my life, has motivated me even more. I think one does not know what you dream about until you have seen it, and now I have.”

Her schedule is gruelling. “I work about 12 hours a day on studies and athletics. After classes I train and then it is back to the books, six days a week. When there are meets in other towns, I get up at 03:00 to catch a plane and when I return, it is all-nighters to catch up lectures I had missed. B-Pharm is not an easy course, but my dad taught me that one can make time for everything.”

She finishes her studies next year and plans to then concentrate mainly on her athletics career. “The average athlete retires around 28. So, I have to hurry and catch that dream.” For other hobbies and interests there is no time. “I am not a very sociable person. I have a few close friends but I like my own company. That is why I like athletics so much. I cannot blame anyone else when things go wrong and I get the glory when I win,” she laughs. She is positive about her chances to be included in the Olympic team. “South African athletics is growing and our athletes are making their international mark. It inspires me. I have the same opportunities as they have, so I have no excuse not to achieve my goal.” Her parents are her biggest supporters. “They taught me that I can do anything with hard work. My dad always says there is time for everything you want to do, you just have to be prepared to work harder. And it is true. There is always more time… and I plan to use it.”

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