Gelant’s second place in Cape race bolsters his Olympic hopes

The leading men, from left: Francis Abong Koumwa, Elroy Gelant and Vincent Langat at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10km yesterday. The race was won by Langat of Kenya. | Mark Sampson

The leading men, from left: Francis Abong Koumwa, Elroy Gelant and Vincent Langat at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10km yesterday. The race was won by Langat of Kenya. | Mark Sampson

Published May 13, 2024



ELROY GELANT’S delight at clocking yet another personal best (PB), this time in the 10km, will be made all the sweeter should he make the marathon team for the Paris Olympics.

The Boxer Athletic Club stalwart finished runner-up in the Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K yesterday (Sunday), Gelant crossing the finish line in 27:54. It was his first time dipping under the 28-minute mark on the road in his illustrious career and his excitement was understandable, the fact that he lost out to Vincent Langat yet again notwithstanding.

The Kenyan crossed the finish line three seconds ahead of the 37-year-old from George as the Mother City race replicated the results of the season-opener in Gqeberha last month were the duo occupied the top two podiums. Another Kenyan, Francis Abong Koumwa, finished third.

Kenya’s Diana Chepkorir won the women’s race. | Mark Sampson

“Today is the announcement of the final list according to the World Athletics rankings and I will wait for that. But if I’m not in the team I will continue with my (training) structure and keep training for a marathon, maybe late in the year to see if I can get close to that 2:06 mark.”

Gelant would no doubt be heartbroken were he not to make it, given just how well he has been running this year. After running a 2:08:56 in the Sevilla Marathon in February, he went on to win his second South African Marathon Championships title late in April with an impressive 2:09:32 during the Durban International Marathon.

Granted he did not meet the requisite 2:08:10 automatic qualifier, but he remained hopeful that he’d done enough to be among the 80 athletes who make it to Paris 2024 via rankings for what would be his third appearance at the Games. He was South Africa’s best performer in the marathon at the previous Games in Tokyo.

Out in Cape Town yesterday, Gelant – though clearly anxious about the World Athletics announcement – was just delighted at having joined the sub-28 gang and dedicated his brilliant run to his mom Yvonne for Mother’s Day.

He ran a very brave race as he led from the start in spite of the strong headwind: “I just told myself that, as a skipper on the boat, if the wind is blowing you just change the sails and that’s what I did – I just had to change the angle of my run.”

Gelant explained that he had started the race with his mind set on chasing teammate Precious Mashele’s 27:35 national record.

“I set my watch on the SA record and the estimated time was 27:30, and that’s the time I ran for, although I knew the wind was going to be a factor. But still, my mind was set on that time.

“I knew I was not going to get it but, in terms of my attitude, I focused on the SA record. I did not get it but still I’m happy with the results.”

He earned praises from Langat, too.

“This is my best win as Elroy is a fast guy. I like him as a top runner.

“He pushed me today, and after 3km I was nervous that he could beat me. He was strong in this race, and the final 1km I decided to break away and go for the victory.

“I’m going back home to try and attempt an Olympic qualifying time in the Olympics for the 5000m. I hope to return to the Durban race in July to record my third series win. Even though it’s my second time in South Africa, I enjoy running in this country,”

In the women’s race, Kenya also ruled supreme with Diana Chepkorir crossing the line first just as she did in Gqeberha, this time in 31:47, nearly 30 seconds ahead of Lesotho’s Neheng Khathala, while Ethiopian Getenesh Sase Agafew completed the podium standings in a time of 32:48.

Cacisile Sosibo was the best-placed South African in fourth place in 34 minutes flat.