Our Modern Athlete Brand Ambassador ’ s Blog
KALMER ’ S CORNER
kalmer ’ s corner by RENÉ KALMER
With just a few days to go to the start of the Tokyo2020ne Olympic Games , I ’ m looking back with a happy heart and a big smile on my Olympic experiences in Beijing and London .
René with her dad in Beijing for race day , and these came in very handy after we ‘ lost ’ my dad in the fan park in High Park after the marathon . My support club would have been even bigger , but my brother ’ s passport was unfortunately stolen in Berlin just two days before the race , so he had to watch the marathon on TV in a dodgy pub in Germany .
With Andre at the Olympic Banquet before London
The Olympic Dream was planted in my heart as an 11-year-old girl , after Elana Meyer won the 10,000m silver medal in 1992 in Barcelona . 16 years later that dream became a reality when I qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in the 1500m , and I can tell you that it took blood , sweat and a lot of tears to qualify !
In 2000 and 2004 I had come very close to qualifying , but missed out by only two seconds in the end . Just days before the Olympic qualifying cut-off in 2008 , though , I set a personal best time of 4:06 in the 1500m in Madrid and booked my ticket to China . I was very lucky to have my whole family in the Bird ’ s Nest , the Beijing National Stadium , to support me in that 1500m . We had a lot of fun exploring a new culture , from the Great Wall of China , Forbidden City and Summer Palace , to the local Karaoke bars and markets .
In 2011 , I took a big leap in my career and switched over to the marathon . I qualified for my second Olympic team after clocking 2:29:59 in Yokohama , Japan . I was part of a historic first at those 2012 London Games , as it was the first time that SA sent a full women ’ s marathon team to the Olympics . It was an honour sharing the London roads with my fellow South Africans , Irvette van Zyl and Tanith Maxwell .
Another highlight from London that Irvette and I will never forget , was getting an invitation through our manager to attend the Olympic Gala , hosted by Prince Albert from Monaco , at St James ’ s Palace . It was the first time in history that the Palace was opened for a special public event , and Irvette and I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to wear our formal Olympic outfits for the occasion . Just a pity that the rest of the guests thought we were waiters . Always funner with a runner , I guess !
Traveling from Twickenham , where we were on training camp , to the Palace in Green Park was a challenge on its own , as stockings and high heels in the summer heat were a recipe for disaster while traveling by public transport in London . However , the Palace was amazing , and for the evening it felt like we were part of the 19th century . We spotted some members of the Royal Family and a lot of past and present sporting heroes . One of the highlights was hanging out and chatting to Constantino Ditto from Romania , who won the Olympic Marathon in 2008 . On our way back , we travelled in “ London-cab-style ” – Pounds well spent !
Team Run René Run in London
Continuing the Tradition
In 2016 it was Christine ’ s turn to represent South Africa and the Kalmer family at the Rio Olympic Games , also in the marathon . Once again , our biggest supporters , mom and dad , took the long flight to Brazil to support Christine . Unfortunately , I had to stay home , as I was expecting Karli , and back then the Zika Virus was a big concern at those Olympics , especially for expecting mothers .
It ’ s crazy to think that four years down the line another virus caused a pandemic that resulted in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics being postponed by a year . Unfortunately , because of the ongoing pandemic , no overseas fans will be allowed to travel to Japan to support their heroes this year , but I ’ m looking forward to getting up in the early hours of the morning to support Team Mzanzi in Tokyo !
With Irvette at the Olympic Gala at St James ’ s Palace
With Family and Friends
The 2012 Games bring back so many wonderful memories . One of the highlights was asking Andre to be my date for the Olympic Banquet before Team SA departed for London . The next day he booked his ticket to London , and as they say , the rest is history ... He was one of 15 family members and friends from SA , Dubai and USA who made the trip to London to support my Olympic Dream . My sister , Christine , even arranged “ RUN RENE RUN ” supporters ’ T-shirts
ISSUE 143 JULY 2021 / www . modernathlete . co . za
About the Author
René Kalmer is a two-time Olympian , having represented SA in the 1500m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and in the marathon at the 2012 London Games . She has also won more than 40 SA titles in track , road and cross country at youth , junior and senior level , in distances from 800m to the half marathon .
Images : Courtesy René Kalmer