Student Sporting Insight #04 – Syuhaidah Ahman

For the past six years, Syuhaidah Ahman, a student from Brunei, has been studying in the UK.

As well as earning a bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering and a master’s degree in Low Energy Building Services Engineering, Syuhaidah also excelled as an athlete with her university’s weightlifting team.

Following success at the UK university level, Syuhaidah’s talent in the sport did not go unnoticed when she was selected to represent Brunei at the 2022 Commonwealth Games Qualifiers.

Having graduated from Loughborough University last year, Syuhaidah is currently working at the Technical Institute in Brunei, a job that was provided as part of her scholarship.

We spoke to Syuhaidah to find out what attracted her to pursue her education in the UK as well as her experience as a student-athlete.

Student Profile

Name: Syuhaidah Ahman

Nationality: Bruneian

Institution: Loughborough University

Degree(s): MEng Architectural Engineering, MSc Low Energy Building Services Engineering

What attracted you to pursue a degree in the UK?

When I was 8 (in 2004), my mother was stationed in the UK to work for three years. Her work involved taking care of Bruneian university students in the UK.

I was always surrounded by students every day and so listening to their experiences as international students I knew I wanted to come back one day to do the same.

After taking up the sport in the final year of your undergraduate degree, what was it that made you fall in love with weightlifting?

I think in a sense, I thought taking up a sport is just something I could distract myself from my own unkind thoughts and the stress of my final year. At least that was the initial plan. Then I realised that I liked the idea of the movement imperfections – there’s ALWAYS something you would want to improve on.

It became a little bit of a healthy addiction to keep trying to get better, even if I will never be in a state of perfection, I love to find ways to learn, improve and sometimes, adapt. On top of that, the community and the support received at whatever level you are in was what made me stick to it. I felt equal.

How did you find it balancing your studies with your sporting commitments in weightlifting?

It was definitely not easy, especially coming from a background of ‘only studying’ and ‘other activities are waste of time’. I had to be convinced by my personal tutor, the mental health advisor as well as my therapist to see the sport as a part of my routine. In fact, it played a part as ‘good mental health’ time.

When I started having more competitions to go for, my training was just as important as my studies. For my studies, I made sure I produced a realistic monthly, weekly and daily tasks for each coursework, exam or research. My goal would be to finish up the tasks per day, nothing less so I wouldn’t have to adjust my whole programme and nothing more so I wouldn’t burn myself out mentally ahead of my training sessions.

For my training, I made sure I finish up the training and prioritise recovery (nutrition and sleep) so it wouldn’t affect my studies. Both have important roles in balancing each other out.

After representing Brunei at the 2022 Commonwealth Games qualifiers, do you plan to continue your involvement in sport?

Although I knew I wasn’t going into the Commonwealth Games in 2022, to know that I was at least in the process, albeit being the last in the ranking in my category, was what drives me to continue being involved in this sport.

I still want to continue and hope to build a bigger community in my country to raise the flag – to show that it is possible to compete for the country.

I am still trying to get stronger and whatever opportunity that brings to keep raising the flag, and if I am financially able, I will keep competing with hopefully a bigger team by my side.

How did participating in weightlifting impact your university experience?

It gave a great closure to my university experience. After being in Loughborough for 6 years, I knew I wanted to make a lasting effect in my life as I know I would never get the university experience back.

Weightlifting probably saved my life at university from my worsened mental health, and it made sure that I would be able to come out of the university understanding the importance of taking care of myself.

I’ve always seen university as a period of hard work, grind and endless hours of head-buried reading before we conquer the real world of high-end careers. But weightlifting changed it into a period of youth, adventures, courage and most of all, genuinity and support.

Would you recommend the UK to prospective international students looking to play a sport alongside their studies?

If you are able to do so, I’d definitely recommend it! Especially in the first year, look for a good hobby to take in or try out a different sport that could be way out of your comfort zone.

“Mentally and physically, it brings a lot of benefits. But it also comes with a bonus of experiences and treasured memories and perhaps beloved friendships you’d never expect.

Want to take your education and sporting career overseas?

If you would like to pursue your sporting ambitions alongside your education at a UK university, The Student Sport Company can help!

We proudly work with the leading sporting and academic institutions throughout the U.K. and are able to offer international students of all ages and levels of study the opportunity to combine their preferred academic qualifications with their sporting ambitions.

Register your details for our free service via the link below.

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