Elana was born on the 10th of October 1966 in Albertinia in the Southern Cape, South Africa. During the 1980s, Elana achieved great success at national level, and was awarded her Springbok colours as a junior athlete. Due to South Africa’s sporting isolation, Elana was initially prevented from competing internationally. This did not deter her, however, from using international standards and times as a benchmark for setting her own running goals. She also used these years to complete her university studies.
When South Africa’s period of isolation ended in the early 1990s, Elana was set to make history. Competing in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, South Africa’s first Olympic Games since 1960, Elana was the country’s best hope for a gold medal. Reflecting on being allowed to compete at the Olympics, Meyer said: “It was amazing. I kept telling myself, ‘It is true, it is true, I am here.’ It was very emotional. I had waited such a long time.” It seemed that the entire nation was glued to their television sets as the athletes set off in the 10 000 meters, a race that would take over 30 minutes to complete. The country was not to be disappointed – Elana won an historic Olympic medal.
Showing her versatility, Meyer 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. Between 1992, when she exploded onto the international scene, and 2005, when she retired, Elana performed consistently well on the world stage and was a feared and respected competitor wherever she competed. As one of her competitors once said: “If Elana Meyer is in the race you know it will be a hard and fast race.” At the age of 35, Elana broke the South African national 10km record in Budapest, and continued to race successfully until her retirement three years later.