Gelant’s quest for gold may not be pipe dream

Elroy Gelant dreams of winning the marathon at the Olympics in Paris. | BackpagePix

Elroy Gelant dreams of winning the marathon at the Olympics in Paris. | BackpagePix

Published Jul 10, 2024



ELROY Gelant dreams of Olympic glory. Unrealistic as it might seem to most, the South African Marathon champion has ambitions of standing on the top podium in Paris next month.

It is in his competitive make-up. The 37-year-old wants to be the best in every undertaking. In any case, why else should an athlete line up for an event when they have no ambitions of winning it?

Gelant knows just how good it feels to win, and will toe the start line for the 42.195km race in Paris on August 10 with the goal of being the first man to cross the finish line.

“I know I’ve told you top 15 is the goal,” Gelant said, immediately after his victory in the Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10K on Sunday. “But it is not good enough.

“You want to be on the podium at the Olympics. You want to get a medal and that’s the objective.

“So, it (the dream and goal) is there and every morning when I train and (in) everything that I do. I am thinking about the Olympic medal.”

He had just smashed the course record with his 27:47 run for his maiden victory in the series, having been runner-up in the year’s two opening races. Enjoying the form of his life this year, Gelant has every reason to approach his second marathon appearance at the global sporting spectacle with confidence.

This, after all, is a man who just can’t seem to put a foot wrong this year. He clocked his marathon best in Sevilla at the beginning of the year and then followed that up with victory at the South African Marathon Championships. As if that was not enough, Gelant also won the national half-marathon title.

“It is a nice feeling to win this. Crossing that line, it was just a feeling of happiness to know that my determination and discipline are coming through. This is boosting my confidence going to the Olympics.”

He has been around long enough, though, to not be cocky and while the dream is to bring home a medal, the reality is that he will have to run out of his skin to do so – Gelant having actually not met the qualifying time of 2:08:10 for the marathon.

He is going to Paris via a world ranking, Athletics South Africa (ASA) having motivated for his participation.

“I do think about the medal, but I also need to be realistic. It will be good if a get a top 15,” said the man who finished 34th at the last Games in Tokyo.

“I need to gain some confidence, so I am ready for next year’s world championships. This was a breakthrough year for me, so I don’t want to be in a hurry. All these things take time, so I will be happy to be up there in Paris.”

He has put in the work and will be finalising his preparations in the remaining five weeks and intends to run a half marathon on a hilly route in Johannesburg so he is fully ready for the Olympic course that has been described as tough.

Given that the Olympic marathon is more tactical than fast, though, Gelant is not crazy to dream of a medal. After all, there is precedence he can look to for inspiration.

Back in 1996, when Josiah Thugwane won gold in Atlanta, he had gone to the Games as South African champion though he had not met the qualifying criteria.