April 2008 gSTAR: Rene Kalmer

by | Apr 1, 2008

Rene Kalmer’s
name has become synonymous with the popular SPAR 10km races, following an outstanding effort last year, which saw her overcome a two-year battle with injury, to secure victory in lthe final 10km race and claim the R50 000 SPAR Grand
Prix prize.

It’s no
surprise that once again Rene is a big favourite for this year’s five-race
SPAR 10km series, which gets underway on 13 April in Cape Town. Rene enjoys participating in
the SPAR series and believes these races do a lot to support and develop
women’s running.

But that’s
not her only focus; with it being Olympic year, Rene is set on qualifying for
Beijing Games in the 1500m and the 5000m. She is hard at work aiming to run sub
4,05min in the 1500m while she is hoping to achieve her personal best in the
5000m.

This
talented athlete started running at the age of 10, and by the age of 15 she had
already run her first international race. At 27, although she is a household
name in South Africa,
she still wants to make a name for herself internationally, and she wants to
become a South African record holder.

Winning
titles aside, Rene’s hard work, passion, and perseverance, has not gone
unnoticed by sponsors, either. She is supported by Mr. Price, Asics, and
Oakley, and admits that without her sponsors, it’s really hard to perform.

Rene started teaching in 2006, after two miserable years,
when she was hit by injuries and a virus, which cost her various sponsorships.
She is an Economic Management teacher, teaching accounting and business studies
to grade 8 and 9 learners from Hoërskool Noordheuwel. She admits that while
running is a selfish profession, teaching gives her an opportunity to be part
of a child’s development.

Rene’s greatest ambition is to win a medal at a major
championship, be a great role model, and inspire others.  She has a big a year ahead of her and there
is no doubt that with her positive attitude and a willingness to work hard, she
will achieve many more highlights in her already successful running career.

Introducing gsport’s April 2008 gSTAR, 10km specialist, Rene Kalmer!

Rene, tell us more
about yourself and your life in SA?

I was born in Roodepoort. I stay in Ruimsig now, close to
the athletics track.

I think South
Africa is a beautiful country; we have so
much to offer any tourist. We are a rainbow nation that stands together and who
love sport. I also think our weather is great.

Athletics SA have
indicated you as one of their best track athletes for the Olympic Games. Tell
us about your recent running form?

I went to Australia
in February and came very close to qualify in 1500m. I missed out with 2
seconds. I am positive for the rest of the season, as I am in the best form of
my life.

What is an Olympic
A-qualification, and have you achieved it?

4,07min in the 1500m and my season’s best time so far is
4,09min

What events are your
main priorities before the Olympics this year, and what are you hoping to achieve in them?

The 1500m and the 5000m. I really want to run sub 4,05min
this year in the 1500m and a personal best in the 5000m.

If you achieve
qualification, what are your Olympic goals?

To give my best in each round and to see how far I can go.

What other goals have
you set yourself this year?

This year my main goals is to focus on the track and to go
and run some 1500m and 5000m race abroad. I will also run as many of the Spar
ladies
 10km races as possible.

How long have you
been running professionally, and how did this
become your sport of choice?

I started running at he the age of 10, so I’ve been running
for 17years now. I’ve competed in my first international race at the age of 15.
I started running after our cross country team coach in primary school told the
whole school that they have to run the cross country league the next day. So
that is how I started. I finished 42nd, but I loved it and started to train and
the rest is history.

You’ve won many
important races in your career, what more is there for you to achieve in
running?

I still want to make name for myself internationally. I
also want to be a South African record holder.

What can be done to
further improve the state of women’s running in South Africa?

I think it is a problem from school level – that girls
rather want to play hockey or netball than running. I believe the Spar ladies
series, do a lot to support and develop women’s running.

What is your impression of
the future of South African distance running?

I believe we have the talent in SA, it just need to be developed,
through proper development and talent identification programs.

What advice do you
have for young runners just starting out in their careers?

Go after your dreams! Running brings a lot of
opportunities. It is hard work, but if you are committed it definitely is worth
all the effort.

Who are your personal
sponsors, and how have they impacted your career?

Mr Price is my major sponsor. They help me to get to the
races. Asics provide me with running shoes and sports gear and Oakley with
eyewear.  My sponsors are definitely keeping me on track, without them it
is really hard to perform.

There are a few determined sponsors in running, including
SPAR and the Yellow Pages, who inject a significant amount of money into
women’s running.

How has their input
impacted on women’s running?

Spar is really doing a lot for women’s running. They target
women in general, from your top class to your social runner. The exposure I get
with the Spar races, really helped a lot to get sponsors.

What subjects do you
teach, and at which school are you a teacher?

I am an EMS (Economic
Management) teacher. I teach accounting and business studies for the grade 8
and 9 learners from Hoërskool Noordheuwel.

What is it that makes
your job as a teacher fulfilling?

I just love kids and it is really fun to work with them.
Being an athlete is a very selfish profession, where it is all about you. Being
a teacher you can see your role in the development of the kids and you feel
like you are really doing something worthy.

How do you balance your sporting obligations with your
professional duties as a teacher?

It’s really tough to work full time and to be a
professional athlete. It is only through God’s grace that I am able to do both.
Luckily I have a very supportive headmaster.

Have you always been
a competitive athlete?

Yes! I always want to give my best and push myself to the
end. I don’t think it is winning that inspires me to train hard, but rather the
love of the sport.

What is it about
running that first captured your interest?

Anyone can run. You get rewarded for hard work.

Who are the female
runners you look up to?

Zola Budd-Pieterse, she is a great friend of mine. She is
very supportive and I can always go to her for advice.

Internationally, Kelly Holmes. We do the same events and
she never gave up her dreams of winning the Olympics.

Aside from running,
what are your other favourite sports?

I’m a great rugby supporter

What do you do when
you need to relax?

SHOPPING!!!!!

gsport strives to
celebrate femininity. How would you define femininity?

Compassionate, caring and to know what you want in life and
not settling for second best and to put back in sport what I got out.

Who are your role
models?

Jonathan Edwards, the British Long jumper.

What is the best
career advice you’ve been given?

You can’t just rely on sport to make a living. That is why
I studied Bcom Financial Management at RAU and I did a teaching degree at
Kovsies. I started teaching in 2006 after 2 terrible years, where I battled
with injuries and a virus. I lost all my sponsorships, so luckily I had
something to fall back to.

What inspires you?

It inspires me to train hard and to be the best I can be. I
love the opportunities that come with running. I’ve seen the world and made
great friends across the world, which would not have been possible without
running.

What is your greatest
ambition?

To win a medal at a major championship and to be a great
role model and to inspire others.

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About the Author:

<a href="https://gsport.co.za/members/kass_naidoo/" target="_self">Kass Naidoo</a>

Kass Naidoo

Passionate sports broadcaster and founder of gsport4girls

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