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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

"I want to defend my Two Oceans title" - Gelant ready to face Mokoka and Mokgobu in TOM 21km

After being the only South African man to finish last year's Olympic Marathon (2:16:43), Elroy Gelant says he wants to focus on the shorter distances again for a while. That 34th place finish in hot and humid conditions in Sapporo (800km north of Tokyo) took it's toll on the 35-year old who told #TheTopRunner that he is unlikely to race 42km in 2022. It means that one of his main aims for the year is to do well over the half marathon distance which begins with winning the Totalsports Two Oceans Half Marathon on Saturday.

"This is just fitness test to see where our training is currently. There's a difference between racing and just trying to see where your fitness is at the moment. I think that's why we backed down," he said after finishing third behind training partner Ian Slinger and winner Desmond Mokgobu at the Motsepe Foundation Race to Equality 21km on the 12th of March. "There's much bigger things ahead this year. There's the World Championships in America and Two Oceans also. I'd like to defend my title of 2019," said the Boxer Athletic Club top runner.

Gelant celebrates after winning the 2019 Two Oceans Half Marathon. Photo Credit: Roger Sedres.

Mokgobu's victory on the hilly streets of central and north western Johannesburg that day was his third of the year following wins at the Dischem Half Marathon in January and the PMC Famliy Road Race in Phalaborwa in late February. The Olympian showed great tactical nouse in all three victories to defeat the likes of Sbusiso Nzima at Dischem and Mbuleli Mathanga and Thabang Mosiako in Limpopo. But adding even more spice to this year's TOM 21km is the news that national half marathon record holder (59:36) Stephen Mokoka will run.

But Gelant believes that his training has gone well enough to tackle all comers, especially because he been doing more speed work in anticipation of his return to compete on the track in his specialist 5000m event. "We can see the training is actually working currently. We are quite strong on the hills and we are from in Potchefstroom there's no hills. The speed is still there. We were jogging a 1:56 in a 800m. My coach and I spoke and I'm thinking I might go back to the 5k, especially Oregon because it's big with track and field," said the national 5000m record holder (13:04.88) who is coached by Jean Verster.

Gelant in training doing hill repeats in Potchefstroom. Photo Credit: Elroy Gelant.

With Mokoka having recently set a new world record over 50km and Mokgobu having focused on the half marathon distance, Gelant's leg speed may be exactly what he needs to out kick the other two men who formed part of the #Tokyo2021 Olympic Marathon trio (although they didn't finish). To win the 2019 TOM title, the African Championships silver medalist did exactly that as he sprinted for the finish line to win (1:03:19) by 11 seconds from Lesotho's Jobo Khatoane and 17 seconds ahead of third placed Mokoka.

"Definitely Two Oceans I will be there. Like I said, I'd like to defend my title," he concluded. The Totalsports Two Oceans Half Marathon takes place on Saturday 16 April with the 56km race on Sunday 17 April. R25 000 is up for grabs if Gelant can win the 21km, with the runner up taking R12 000 and R6 000 for third place.

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