ASA honour Elana Meyer with Lifetime Achievement Award
Reflecting on magnificent running career that included an Olympic silver medal over 10 000m and gold at the World Half Marathon Championships, one is perhaps a little surprised when Elana Meyer says these personal achievements are possibly less important to her than the work she is currently doing as a coach, mentor and administrator. These were the icon of South African running's words when she thanked Athletics South Africa (ASA) President James Moloi for honouring her with a Presidential Lifetime Award at the ASA Awards which took place in Johannesburg on Friday (27 January) night.
"It really is an honour to be recognized. I stopped running so many years ago, so to be acknowledged tonight really means a lot to me because I can certainly say that I absolutely loved my running career and worked hard but since I retired from athletics, I've actually worked a lot harder. So just to get some acknowledgement really means a lot to me because it's not always easy but it really is rewarding," she told #TheTopRunner.
Although she is also involved with the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon as an ambassador, the hard work that the 55-year-old mentions is mainly in the arena of unearthing the next generation of top runners. The holder of no less than five national records no directs her own athletics development organisation called Endurocad which aims to become the most proficient distance running and endurance sports academy in Africa. And having recently joined forces with another legend in Zola Budd, the pair are now based at the Stellenbosch High School where they run an athletics scholarship programme aimed at recruiting and training future champions.
"It's been an absolute privilege for me to work with young athletes and see how lives are transformed through the sport. It's incredible. This year we have 28 students in the bursary programme. I'm really impressed with how the young athletes from small towns embrace the opportunity and work hard. I'm just super, super proud of them. So I'm looking forward to grow that programme so that we can ultimately look back and see that through that opportunity many athletes could excel and reach their potential and change their lives," she smiled.
Meyer whose long list of accolades also include two half marathon world records and runner-up finishes at both the Boston and Chicago Marathons, was honoured alongside revered Bloemfontein-based sprint hurdles coach Dup du Plessis and Sam Tshabalala - the first black winner of the Comrades Marathon. Although Tshabalala passed away last October, his widow was there to receive the posthumous award on his behalf. Meyer praised ASA for the initiative which Moloi described as the federation's first ever annual awards ceremony.
"It's great to see that our current athletes are acknowledged by having an event like this which really adds to the sport because athletes work hard and often they don't get the recognition they deserve. It's a tough sport. It's one of the few sporting codes that the whole world does. So hats off to the athletes.