Gelant chasing Olympics’ placement via rankings

ELROY Gelant is looking to make the South African Olympics’ squad for a third time running. | Tobias Ginsberg

ELROY Gelant is looking to make the South African Olympics’ squad for a third time running. | Tobias Ginsberg

Published Apr 13, 2024


ELROY Gelant. Mention this name and just about every sport enthusiast in the country knows who you are talking about.

“Oh, that very fast guy,” your ordinary South African is likely to say.

“I know that man – he is a former 5000m superstar, right?” would be the response from a track and field enthusiast.

“You are talking about the two-time South African Olympian brother,” is how a Games aficionado would refer to the runner from Pacaltsdorp in George.

Road runners are likely to tell you of Gelant’s exploits for the country at the World Half Marathon Championships and his fantastic runs, from the 10km to marathons, throughout the country.

Clearly then he is a highly-accomplished athlete who has reached the heights many a runner can only dream of.

And now, at 37, you’d expect him to be slowing down a bit as he enters the twilight of his decorated career. Easing up though is the last thing Gelant is doing. If anything, the man from Pacaltsdorp in George appears to be going faster.

That much is evidenced by his running a marathon personal best of 2:08:56 just the other day in Seville. Last weekend, he was impressive as he finished runner up to Kenya’s Vincent Langat during the Absa Run Your City Gqeberha 10K in 28:17.

He is sure to be brimming with confidence when he lines up for this weekend’s 21.1km race of the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon.

“I’ve finished in second place in the 2019 edition and race preparations for this one have gone well. I’ve done a lot of hill work plus speed training and now this race (the Absa Run Your City) will help me be ready in terms of speed.”

Tough as it is, the Two Oceans Half Marathon often produces fast times and Gelant knows only too well the importance of being ready for the race.

This being an Olympic year, Gelant is hopeful he will make the South African marathon team for the Paris Games via the rankings, as he has not run the required time to qualify automatically. But his 2:08:56 currently makes him the second-fastest South African behind Stephen Mokoka, who has qualified automatically. Gelant was at the Tokyo Games and finished the race in 34th place with a time of 2:16:43.

He would love nothing more than to go back to sports’ greatest platform for a third successive time – Gelant having been to the Rio 2016 Games, where he ran a 13:17:47 in the 5000m for position 13 – to test himself against the world’s best one more time.

That he has had such longevity as an athlete, he says, is because of the choices he has made.

“It is all down to being disciplined. Where you place yourself and the support that you get from those around you is very important. That’s what has worked for me. The hard work and the belief and the confidence that I can still do it even at an age when some might be saying it is time to hang up the spikes or running shoes. I don’t want to feel like I gave 20%, I always want to give 110%.”

There is, however, another element. Gelant has never forgotten where he comes from and what it has taken for him to get to where he is now.

“For me, I look back at where I come from, and I remember my grandmother and my mother’s efforts to get me to where I am. It makes me realise I am running for a much bigger purpose. I want to do something because of the sacrifices that my mom made for me to get to this level. And I want to show the younger ones that there are opportunities to make a difference in your life, irrespective of your background.”