Team SA’s field athlete Meike Strydom celebrates her 20th birthday today (25 August) and she does so as part of the track-and-field squad competing at the African Games. Happy birthday from all of South Africa, Meike!
Strydom, who represents Central Gauteng in provincial competion, is in Morocco where she’ll do duty in the shot-put and javelin. Gary Lemke, Team SA’s media representative at the African Games, caught up with her to ask a few questions.
Who are your role model(s) in the sport? Have you ever met them?
My role model is Anita Marton from Hungary, also a shot-putter and I haven’t yet had the privilege of meeting her.
Explain what it means to represent your country at an international event.
To represent my country at an international event is an absolute honour and I am privileged enough to get this amazing opportunity.
How do you prepare for an event in the ready room, listen to (what) music etc?
In the ready room I don’t listen to any music. I prefer to focus by thinking of my game plan. I always say a prayer before entering the field.
What is your most memorable personal athletics moment?
My most memorable earlier athletics moment was when I won both shot-put and discuss at the 2018 SA Schools Championships in Potchefstroom, which also made it my fifth consecutive shot-put title. What made it even more special was that the first time I won gold at SA level in 2014, I broke the SA schools record and I managed to do the same in my final year at SA Schools, in 2018, when I broke the record on my fifth attempt.
What is your most memorable other sporting moment?
My most memorable sporting moment was when I went on to the field in South African clothes for the very first time in 2017, at the IAAF World U18 Championships, held in Kenya, knowing that I was now competing among the world’s best and realising that representing my country was what I had been working for since starting my journey.
In terms of your travels, what has been your favourite city and why?
My favourite city thus far was Tampere in Finland, which hosted the IAAF World U20 Championships in 2018. It was my first time travelling outside Africa and the people I went with were amazing. We were equally keen on exploring the city and the camaraderie made the competition an even more wonderful experience.
What is the favourite app that you have on your phone?
My favourite app is Instagram. Isn’t it everybody’s?!
If you weren’t an athlete what would you be?
If I weren’t an athlete I would probably go crazy … but in all seriousness, I would be exactly where I am now, studying to be a chartered accountant and intending to specialise in auditing.
What are your sporting ambitions for the next two years?
In the next two years, I would like to qualify for the World Student Games taking place in 2021 as well as better my ranking in South Africa as a senior. I’ll attempt to qualify for as many international events as possible.
Which person has had the most influence on your career?
To pick only one person who has influenced my career is very difficult. My parents come to mind first, for having encouraged me every step of the way, and instilling principles of disciplined hard work, self-challenge and pride. Without my coach, Pierre Blignaut, I would also not have made it this far. He has a big part in my achievements and love of throwing. Most importantly, without God’s blessings bestowed upon me, nothing would be possible.