Rene Kalmer started running when she was 10 when a teacher told the entire school they had to participate. She laughingly admits that she would not have dared to refuse the teacher, because of her upbringing, but it would set her on her life path, because she found that she loved running.
Today she has risen to become one of the country’s top distance athletes.
“I love being able to travel the world and make global friends, one of the benefits of my athletic career,” Kalmer admits.
By the time she competed at under 15 level she raced to a silver medal in the 1 500m at the South African junior championships and her road to the front of the pack was clear.
Like all long distance runners, she has competed in a variety of distances, from 800m and 1 500m, up to half marathon and marathon distances. She seems to favour the 10km road race, as her performances as the “darling of the Spar Women’s Race” seem to indicate.
She was selected for the South African marathon team for the Olympics in 2008 and 2012 and is on the road to the next one.
Kalmer says Elana Meyer and Zola Budd are her two role models. After she saw Meyer winning the silver medal at the Barcelona Olympics, she started dreaming of participating at the Olympics, and 16 years later she realised her dream in Beijing.
She won the Spar Ladies Race last year, despite nagging injuries that slowed her training somewhat. It was not her first win of this multi-leg competition, she first won it in 2007 and holds the title for the female who has run the most Spar races. And yes, she intends defending her Spar title in 2014.
Kalmer trains and competes against her sister, Christine, and acknowledges that her parents provide crucial support.
Kalmer is the brand ambassador for Modern Athlete magazine and coaches young girls when she is not competing overseas. Her sights are firmly set on the next Olympics Rio 2016: “It will be my ultimate dream to qualify for three consecutive Olympic Games, and Rio will make this a reality.” — Ilse Ferreira