Stream of consciousness

Renée Eykens combines her studies with the Olympics

3 min
Image Liz Dvorkina

In 'Stream of Consciousness', we give the floor to someone from the UAntwerp community. Our speaker today is Renée Eykens. She is a Rehabilitation Sciences student at UAntwerp and is an Olympic athlete. She has already won a European 800m championship twice.

How old do you feel?

That varies a lot. Sometimes I still feel like a kid. I like to act silly and not take life too seriously. On the other hand, I also sometimes feel like an elderly person. Being an elite athlete is no joke, and you feel it in your body. After a hard training session or training period, I sometimes have trouble getting off the sofa or walking up the stairs – much to the amusement of my friends.


What trait do you admire most in your best friends?

I love their honesty. They don’t mince words when I need advice. They also support me unconditionally and have a lot of faith in me – sometimes even more than myself.


What does the perfect Sunday morning look like for you?

Great question! Sunday is usually a rest day for me (unless it’s race season, of course). Sleeping in, followed by a delicious breakfast with friends (don’t forget the coffee!). Going for a walk in the woods with our dog ... That is how we unwind.


Do you have any advice for prospective students?

I chose to stagger my studies from the beginning. This gave me time and space to be 100% committed in both areas (elite athlete and university). It’s a nice change of pace, but it sometimes gives me stress.

What is your favourite memory of your student days?

I think this one is yet to come! Because I staggered my studies, I’ve obviously been at it for a while now ... I really look forward to the moment when I finally graduate and have my degree – after nine years. Blood, sweat and tears are not only part of sports!


What does UAntwerp still mean to you today?

A lot! UAntwerp allowed me to combine my sport and studies. In addition, most professors were very understanding of my situation and I could always contact them if I had questions. I am very grateful to the university for the opportunities I have been given!


How does your job give you satisfaction?

I chose to study rehabilitation sciences because I want to help people. I am convinced that the paramedical aspect is at least as important as the medical aspect. I want to raise awareness, motivate and help people. It is immensely satisfying when you can help someone who has been looking for a solution for years.


What frustrates you in your professional life?

Sometimes I forget that not everyone is as motivated or committed as I am. Because I demand a lot from myself, I tend to ask the same from other people. When that happens I have to adjust my approach a bit, but I still try to find a way to fuel that motivation and go for it together!


If you could change your profession for a day, what would you want to do?

I would like to be a singer, musician or an actress. I have absolutely no experience, so I’m not any good. But it does seem amazing to have a taste of that world for once.

City or countryside?

Countryside, or nature. I want to explore all the beautiful, hidden places in this world.


Ardennes or the sea?

Sea! There is nothing like fresh sea air and bare feet in the sand. I always feel at peace there.


Cycling or going for a walk?

Cycling. I can see a lot more in the same amount of time. On the other hand, walking can take you to places you can’t pass by bike... Difficult choice!


Fiction or non-fiction?

If I really have to choose, I choose fiction. I love a captivating thriller, where the suspense makes you hide under a blanket.


Working from home or at the office?

Office. To work, I like to get out of the house. This also makes it easier to let go of my work at home and unwind.

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