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Press Release   •   Aug 10, 2016 12:20 GMT

Elana Meyer’s Endurocad high performance sports academy has helped produce 10 Olympic marathon qualifiers; read and be inspired!

As the Official Wellness Partner of the South African Olympic team for Rio 2016, Discovery Vitality hopes to inspire ordinary South Africans to lead healthier lives.

Every week, Vitality Active Rewards members contribute an impressive 45 million Vitality fitness points. Between Saturday, 6 August and Friday, 12 August 2016 every fitness point earned will go towards a goal of 50 million fitness points, which will translate into a ¼ of a million Rand donation to Endurocad. Help Discovery Vitality hit this goal, and send future SA stars to the Olympics. 

The Talent Factory 

“Coming back from the 2012 London Olympics it was clear we needed to develop talent in distance running. Historically South Africa has so much athletic talent, yet we did not have one athlete on the track for the events between 800m and the marathon, and only one female athlete in the entire athletic team,” says Elana Meyer, Olympian and Team Vitality Ambassador.

This led her to launch Endurocad in Stellenbosch in 2013. In a few short years, the academy has assisted 80 athletes. There were just three women Olympic marathon qualifiers in 2012; in 2016, there were 10. Each country can select a team of three runners for the marathon event, and this year’s larger pool to draw from is hugely encouraging for the future of the sport.

Developing all-round athletes

A balanced life is at the heart of Endurocad’s vision. “To get athletes to make a shift from competing for survival to competing for excellence is very important. We focus on holistic development and using sport as part of a bigger picture. The greatest contribution we can make is to not only develop successful athletes, but successful athletes with career paths,” says Meyer.

One young man who has grabbed the opportunity with both hands is Mpho Makofane. Originally from a township outside Johannesburg, Makofane’s talent was identified by recruiters from Monroe College in New York. He won a full scholarship, but he didn’t have the means to take it up. Endurocad was able to step in and facilitate his move to the USA.

Makofane immediately impressed academically and on the track, winning athletic prizes as well as a Dean’s Award. Thanks to his performance he was offered a further scholarship to attend Clemson University where he is studying economics. “He has not only improved his running performance, but he realised it’s not only about running. The combination is what makes him so successful,” says Meyer. “We encourage all athletes to develop their athletic potential to the full, as part of a career path.”

Sending athletes to participate in the 2016 Rio Olympics

Endurocad has assisted three athletes in different ways to get to the Rio Olympics:

Christine Kalmer, who qualified for the marathon (in 2:33:43), is coached by Endurocad’s Ernie Gruhn. Kalmer is a full-time civil engineer who clocked her qualifying time in her second marathon ever in Valencia in 2015. “Endurocad has connected me to the best coaching staff in the country. Being part of Endurocad has also done a lot for my confidence; having a legend like Elana Meyer believe in you makes you dig even deeper, because maybe they see something in you that you haven’t yet,” says Christine.

10 000m runner Dominique Scott has been at the University of Arkansas in the USA for the last four years. Endurocad brought her back to South Africa to compete at the SA National Championships, making her eligible for Olympic selection. Scott is currently the number one ranked SA athlete in distances 1 500 – 10 000m. (She runs 5km in 15:25.)

She says: “Ever since I can remember it has been my dream to be an Olympian and represent my country, wearing the green and gold. The moment I crossed the finish line at the Payton Jordon Invite in California in a time of 31:56 [for 10 000m] I felt a rush of emotions: I was filled with joy as I realized I had qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games. All the hard work and sacrifices (like moving to boarding school and later on moving to the United States) were worth it. Now to be living out my dream is surreal. God has truly blessed me throughout my life and I am excited to run for Him, my country and all the people who have supported me along the way in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.”

Top ranked SA triathlete Mari Rabie completed her MBA in England and competes part time. “She came back from the UK without any sponsors to support her dream of competing at the Rio Olympics,” says Meyer. Endurocad facilitated a job for her with one of their supporters, Remgro. “Now she competes without financial worries about getting to races.”

The power of the Olympics

As an Olympic medalist herself, and one of the sport’s most devoted and passionate contributors, Elana Meyer knows what it takes to win at the Games. She finds it very rewarding to help others get to the greatest sporting stage in the world. “To be able to benefit others with my experience is wonderful, I enjoy the opportunity we have in inspiring young athletes.”

There is huge power in Olympic performances. Mari Rabie was five years old when Meyer won silver in the 10 000m event at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. “I remember sitting in our lounge watching the race. Later Elana gave my sister and I two pairs of her shoes. They were too small for my sister and I wore them literally until they fell apart and I told everyone I was running in Olympic shoes (to my sister's embarrassment). My ’when I grow up’ oral at school was to be like Elana and go to the Olympics. So I guess that 10 000m in Barcelona sparked something.”

Every athlete is a role model for everyday heroes. People young and old will be watching our athletes perform and fueling their own grand dreams. Whether those dreams include Olympic gold, the high school cross country team, or cracking 30 minutes at the local parkrun, every ‘ordinary’ achievement should be marked, says Meyer.

“I believe every personal best should be celebrated. When I started running at the age of nine, I ran the 5km from our farm in Albertinia to town and I was chuffed that I’d managed to do something I thought I wouldn’t be able to do. That was the first step of many going forward, it’s important to celebrate them! Those moments put you on the road to appreciating your health, investing in wellness; they are the steps towards fulfilling your journey. If we want to achieve a parkrun, we need not measure ourselves against someone who runs Comrades, rather focus on the small steps and enjoy the moment.”

Discovery information

About Discovery Limited

Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, savings and investment products and wellness markets. Founded in 1992, Discovery was guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. Underpinning this core purpose is the belief that through innovation, Discovery can be a powerful market disruptor.

The company, with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, has expanded its operations globally and currently serves over 5 million clients across South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, China, Singapore and Australia. Discovery recently partnered with Generali, a leading insurer in Europe, and has partnered with John Hancock in the US. These new partnerships will bring Discovery’s shared-value business model to protection industries in Europe and the US.

Vitality, Discovery’s wellness programme, is the world’s largest scientific, incentive-based wellness solution for individuals and corporates. The global Vitality membership base now exceeds three million lives in five markets.

Discovery is an authorised financial services provider and trades under the code “DSY” on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange. 

Follow us on Twitter @Discovery_SA

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