Elroy Gelant rewrote the record books in Hengelo on Sunday evening with an astonishing run to break the South African 5 000m mark at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games.
Gelant, who hails from Pacaltsdorp near George, smashed Stephen Mokoka’s record by nearly seven seconds to produce a time of 13.04.88 to end fourth in the race.
Mokoka set his time of 13:11.44 at the 2015 South African national championships in Stellenbosch, and retained his title at this year’s event at the same Coetzenburg track.
But on Sunday evening, Gelant stamped his authority on the distance in SA history as he stayed in touch with Ethiopia’s 2012 Olympic silver medallist Dejen Gebremeskel in a close finish.
Gebremeskel took the honours in 13:00.99, with Eritrea’s Abrar Adem second in 13:04.12 and Bethwell Birgen of Kenya third in 13:04.66.
But the 29-year-old Gelant will be delighted with his time after losing to Mokoka at the national championships this year, having long targeted the SA record. Gelant surpassed his previous best of 13:15.87, which he ran in 2013.
Gelant’s heroics was the highlight of an otherwise bleak meet for the six South African athletes in Hengelo, with 200m champion Alyssa Conley ending fourth in 23.17 as she had to watch Dutch superstar Dafne Schippers blaze to a new meeting record in 22.02 to win by more than a second.
Conley told Independent Media before flying to The Netherlands that she was hoping to break 23 seconds, especially with Schippers in the field, but it was not to be.
Her 100m counterpart Henricho Bruintjies will be distraught after he travelled all the way to Hengelo, only to be disqualified for a false start in the final, having beaten veteran Kim Collins in his heat in a time of 10.26.
SA discus champion Victor Hogan didn’t get close to his season’s best of over 67m as he had to be satisfied with fourth in 63.70m as American Rodney Brown won in 65.70m.
Long jumper Dylan Cotter (7.36m) and 800m runner Rynardt van Rensburg (1:47.03) were well below their best as they placed sixth and fourth respectively.
1 Dafne Schippers (The Netherlands) 22.02
2 Jodie Williams (Great Britain) 23.06
3 Tiffany Townsend (USA) 23.12
4 Alyssa Conley (RSA) 23.17
1 Churandy Martina (The Netherlands) 10.12
2 Sean Safo-Antwi (Ghana) 10.24
3 Ramon Gittens (Barbados) 10.24
1 Willy Tarbei (Kenya) 1:45.87
2 Lutimar Abreu (Brazil) 1:46.04
3 Thijmen Kupers (The Netherlands) 1:46.27
4 Rynardt van Rensburg (RSA) 1:47.03
Men’s 5 000m
1 Dejen Gebremeskel (Ethiopia) 13:00.99
2 Abrar Adem (Eritrea) 13:04.12
3 Bethwell Birgen (Kenya) 13:04.66
4 Elroy Gelant (RSA) 13:04.88 (SA Record)
Men’s Discus Throw
1 Rodney Brown (USA) 65.70m
2 Lukas Weisshaidinger (Austria) 64.55m
3 Daniel Jasinski (Germany) 63.84m
4 Victor Hogan (RSA) 63.70m
Men’s Long Jump
1 Jianan Wang (China) 7.91m
2 Ignisious Gaisah (The Netherlands) 7.81m
3 Yaoguang Zhang (China) 7.73m
6 Dylan Cotter (RSA) 7.36m