Our Ambassadors & Athletes

Our Ambassador – Elana Meyer

Living Life to the Fullest

She’s one of South Africa’s iconic sporting greats – an Olympic medallist, a multiple global record-holder and a world champion – and yet there is still so much more to Elana Meyer than her highly consistent, elite athletic career.  She has been devoted to achieving youth development through sport; she’s a delighted mother; an intrepid outdoor adventurer, an outstanding coach, a highly sought after motivational speaker and one of the founding  Directors of ENDUROCAD Africa’s first Academy dedicated to endurance sports.

Setting the Standards of Excellence

Few South Africans who watched the 1992 Olympic Games will forget the pride and joy inspired by Elana Meyer.  Yet, it was just one of the prestigious highlights in an excellent, long-lasting international athletic career.

Elana has made history as one of South Africa’s finest long distance athletes.  With an astounding combination of raw talent, healthy competitiveness and absolute commitment to her goals, Elana has scaled the peaks of world-class sporting achievement.

It has been an enriching pursuit of what it is to live life to the fullest and experience oneself as the best you can be – on your own terms.  She has learnt some of her best lessons from her rivals, travelled the world and raced against the odds.

Elana Meyer has set the benchmarks – not just for records broken, but for how to keep on track

Highlights & Stats

Setting the Standards of Excellence

Few South Africans who watched the 1992 Olympic Games will forget the pride and joy inspired by Elana Meyer.  Yet, it was just one of the prestigious highlights in an excellent, long-lasting international athletic career.  Elana has made history as one of South Africa’s finest long distance athletes.  With an astounding combination of raw talent, healthy competitiveness and absolute commitment to her goals, Elana has scaled the peaks of world-class sporting achievement.  It has been an enriching pursuit of what it is to live life to the fullest and experience oneself as the best you can be – on your own terms.  She has learnt some of her best lessons from her rivals, travelled the world and raced against the odds.  Elana has set the benchmarks – not just for records broken, but for how to keep on track.

Inspiring the Next Generation

Invigorated by the sheer joy of running, a young Elana Meyer set out on a life journey from a modest South African farm outside of the small town of Albertina to the politically-charged world stage in the harsh glare of the media spotlight. More than anyone, she knows that you need a lot more than natural talent alone to sustain a long-lived, successful international athletic career. Young athletes need a wide range of support from access to high level coaching and latest sports science to quality race opportunities; as well as life and career guidance. Elana brings her vast experience of distance running and the global athletic arena to the South African Endurance Academy – the continent’s first, visionary institution to develop and profile our next generations of talented long-distance runners.”

Elana Meyer Profile

Committed To Excellence

Elana Meyer is proudly South African. She represents both specific world class sporting achievement and all-round human excellence. As a mother of two and Co-Director of the South African Endurance Academy, Elana maintains balance in her life as she meets her responsibilities to others while remaining personally fit and healthy. Throughout her life, Elana has embraced an adventurous approach and demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excellence. She has a passion for the outdoors; for adventure, sports and culture; as well as a keen focus on human development and reaching personal potential.

Early Life

Elana Meyer was born on the 10th of October and grew up on her family’s farm outside of the small town of Albertinia in the Southern Cape. She was the second of four children, and she discovered her talent for running at an early age. At just thirteen years of age, Elana won her first official road race – The Foot of Africa half marathon. Soon after, she started competing against the barefoot wonder, Zola Budd, who dominated South African athletics in the 1980s. Elana soon realised that it would take hard work and total dedication if she wanted to reach the top at national or international levels. During the 1980s, Elana achieved great success at national level, and was awarded her Springbok colours as a junior athlete.

Making Her Mark

As she embarked on her athletics career, Elana could not compete internationally due to South Africa’s sporting isolation. However this did not deter her from using international standards and times as the benchmarks for setting her own running goals; and she knew she was able to match and better many of the world’s top women endurance runners of that time. Elana also used these years to complete her university studies. Elana was awarded her B.Comm and B.Comm (Hons) degrees as well as her Higher Education Diploma from the University of Stellenbosch. She then enrolled for a Masters degree in Marketing, but that had to be put aside temporarily in the interest of international racing when South Africa‟s period of isolation ended in the early 1990s. The defining moment of Elana’s early career came soon thereafter. Competing in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, South Africa’s first Olympic Games since 1960, Elana was the country’s best hope for bringing home a medal. South Africa was not to be disappointed, Elana won an historic Olympic medal and created an abiding memory as she and the winner, Ethiopia’s Derartu Tulu embraced, draped their respective flags around their shoulders and ran an historic victory lap together to massive applause from the crowd.

An Athletic Career of Excellence

In 1991 Elana broke her first world record – …
Showing her versatility, Elana stayed in top form in 1992 and 1993, winning the African title in the 1 500 metres. Thirteen years on the local and International circuit followed, during which Elana broke a further four world records, and won both a world cup and the world half marathon titles. For more than a decade, until she retired in 2005, Elana performed consistently well on the world stage, and was a feared and respected elite athlete wherever she competed.

An Open Field

When Elana officially retired from racing in January 2005, she had set a benchmark for a highly successful career in professional sports. The field was now open for her to explore other interests and achieve new goals. She completed a Life & Executive Coaching course at UCT Business School. She had the opportunities to embark on many adventures that she had put on hold as a professional athlete. Elana summited Kilimanjaro later that year, and fell in love with the experience of being in the mountains. She hiked to Everest Base camp and enjoyed skydiving and rock climbing. There was now also the opportunity for family life, and along with partner, Jacques Jansen van Rensburg, Elana embarked on her richest life experience, bringing son, Christopher and daughter, Ene into the world, and enjoying the many rewards of parenting. In 2012 Elana also completed the ABSA Cape Epic as a rookie with a strong believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it!

Giving Back

Having received so much encouragement and support from South Africans during her years of domestic and international racing, Elana is intent on making a positive contribution to the country she loves so dearly. She was co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the JAG Sports and Education Foundation which implements educational and sporting programmes to promote physical health, emotional well-being and personal achievement in high risk communities throughout South Africa. Through this work Elana has touched the lives of thousands of children who need a positive role model and opportunities to realise their potential.

Paying it Forward

Elana is currently Co-Director of the South African Endurance Academy, a non profit organisation that provides a complete sports management solution for aspiring endurance athletes. The organisation identifies talented South African distance runners and offers them a multi-faceted support programme that includes top level sports coaching, race management, contract sourcing and negotiations, brand and enterprise development, marketing and reputation management and life skills development.

ABOUT US

First of its kind on the continent, The SA Endurance Academy aims to become the most proficient distance running and endurance sports academy in Africa.  Together with its partners, Stellenbosch University (SU), the Stellenbosch Sports Academy (SSA) and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA), the SA Endurance Academy offers a complete suite of services to support and professional manage world class distance runners.

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