South African Athletics
Kalmer ditched by Nedbank
Rene Kalmer (Cherie Vale / NEWSPORT MEDIA)
Johannesburg - Top South African road runner Rene Kalmer will not be running in Nedbank colours this year, after her contract was not renewed for the 2014 season.
The club terminated Kalmer's contract in November, ending their four year relationship with the athlete, who was also their brand ambassador.
A disappointed Kalmer said she was surprised by the news.
"I was really upset by this because I have been with the club for four years and in those years I was one of their best performers," Kalmer said.
"I achieved a lot while with the club, which encouraged other athletes to join the club.
"I believe it is due to personal issues that Nick (Bester) has with me and definitely not based on performance. Even though I had a tough 2013 based on my standards, I still managed to finish second in the Spar Grand Prix."
Bester was reportedly unhappy when Kalmer spoke out about foreign athletes competing against her in the same club colours, when she ran in second to Ethiopia's Gezashigh Hunduma Gemeda in the October leg of the women's 10km challenge series.
Kalmer's sister Christine is still contracted to the running club.
Under the financial institution's banner, Kalmer enjoyed a great 2012 season, raking up wins in all her races in South Africa. She took titles at the SA Half-Marathon National Championships as well as the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town and was also crowned the 2012 Grand Prix series champion.
Last year was a troubling season for the Olympic athlete, who battled to make a strong comeback after recovering from an injury she sustained from the Boston Marathon in April where she finished 17th.
Despite all her battles with niggles and injuries, Kalmer defended her national half-marathon title in East London in September and finished second overall in the women's 10km challenge series.
Kalmer, who has received various offers from local clubs, said she was carefully weighing her options and would compete in her adidas kit in the meantime.
Feeling confident after the December break, the 33-year-old said she looked to put boardroom issues behind her and focus on improving her personal best time when she runs at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in Denmark in March.
Kalmer set her career record of one hour, 10 minutes, 13 seconds (1:10:13) when she finished sixth at the Great North Run in Newcastle, England, in September 2012.
"The first challenge for me this year is doing well at the world half-marathon champs where I aim to dip just under one hour and ten minutes, improving on my current personal best.
"After Denmark, my focus will be on the Commonwealth Games which will be held in Scotland from July 23 to August 3.
"In between, it will be a busy year for me. I will not be taking part in marathons for the first six months but will be doing the shorter distances."