Elroy Gelant headed to Olympics after World Athletics accede to Athletics SA request

Elroy Gelant headed to Olympics after World Athletics accede to Athletics SA request

Athletics South Africa have successfully persuaded World Athletics to increase the Olympic marathon slots through world rankings, allowing national champion Elroy Gelant to represent Team SA in Paris.

Despite two attempts, Gelant failed to achieve the automatic qualifying time of 2:08:10, prompting ASA to write a motivational letter to the governing body, as confirmed by the national broadcaster.

ASA’s persistent efforts led to World Athletics expanding the slots from 80 to 85, enabling Gelant to qualify through the ranking points system at number 83 and join Stephen Mokoka in the men’s team. 

"As you may have seen, we have been able to integrate an additional five athletes into the marathon quota for Paris, which means that Elroy Gelant is now qualified by World Rankings. This is already reflected on the road to Paris,” read parts of the letter from World Athletics – seen by SABC Sport.  

ASA president James Moloi expressed his delight to the public broadcaster's sports desk upon the confirmation of Gelant, who is the reigning national marathon and half-marathon champion, accepted into the Games. 

"This is a triumph for athletics in South Africa, seeing the hardworking Gelant earn his place in the Olympics," said Moloi.

"He won the SA 42.2km and 21.1km marathon in a short period and ran fast times in both distances, continually breaking his personal bests with each race. 

"We couldn’t just sit and do nothing about the situation. Gelant’s current form and dedication to his country make him deserving of this opportunity."

Speaking exclusively to SABC Sport, Gelant also expressed his ambition to achieve a top-15 finish in Paris now that his ticket is confirmed. 

"What an incredible journey this has been. I am thrilled to receive the official news of qualifying for the Olympics, finally," he said.

"It is a tremendous honour and a blessing for me. With this confirmation, I can fully concentrate on my preparations for the Games. 

"Over the past few months, I have built a solid foundation in terms of my performance, and I eagerly look forward to the Olympic Games.

"I am confident that the upcoming Olympics will be particularly significant for me, especially in light of my recent performances, and I believe achieving a top-15 finish is within my reach, given my preparation leading up to the marathon."

Gelant secured 13th place in the 5000m at the Brazil Olympics in 2016 and crossed the finish line in 33rd in the Tokyo 2020 Marathon.

READ: Luxolo Adams excited for Olympic debut after injury heartbreak