Elana discovered her talent for running at an early age. At just thirteen, she entered and won her first official race, the Foot of Africa half marathon.

Due to South Africa’s sporting isolation, Elana was initially prevented from competing internationally. This did not deter her.


Competing in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, South Africa’s first Games since 1960, Elana was her country’s best hope. Reflecting on being allowed to compete, she said: “It was amazing. I kept telling myself, It is true, I am here. It was very emotional. I had waited such a long time”. Elana did not disappoint, earning South Africa an historic Olympic silver medal. However, the abiding memory of the event came when the winner, Ethiopian Derartu Tulu and Elana, embraced and, draping their respective flags around their shoulders, ran an historic victory lap together to massive applause from the crowd. Tulu’s victory was the first by a black African athlete at the Olympics, and the shared joy of her and Elana was a victory.


Elana returned to winning form in the same year and the following year with African titles in the 1,500 metres. Another 13 years on the international circuit followed, during which Elana broke five world records and won both a world cup and the world half marathon titles.


Now retired, Elana believes she has the opportunity to invest her energy and experience in projects that can inspire, empower and encourageothers to live life to the fullest. In 2013 she founded ENDUROCAD, a non-profit organization that provides the opportunity for South African endurance athletes to improve their times, make a living from their talent and build a brand and business for life after sport. 


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