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Gelant ends 20th at World Championships in Poland

Our Elroy Gelant was the best South African finisher at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland on Sunday, writes Mark Etheridge.

With the team seemingly freezing in the icy, muddy conditions, 26-year-old Gelant ended 20th in the senior men’s 12 kilometre event, finishing just over a minute after Kenyan Japhet Korir, at 19, the youngest ever winner of the senior world title.

Korir, clocked 32min 45sec and Gelant 33:53. Gladwin Mzazi was the next best South African finisher in 35:03.

The senior men’s side ended 12th of 15 teams.

Gelant, who recently ran the fastest 3000m event at altitude in South Africa, was looking to emulate or better Shadrack Hoff and Stephen Mokoka, who hold the best finish by a South African (15th) at world championships.

In the women’s category our athletes failed to make an impression, with Lebo Phalula’s 26:22 only good for 53rd spot in a field of 96 finishers as Kenya’s Emily Chebet won in 24:24. Nolene Conrad was next best SA finisher in 79th spot (27:08).

The combined times of the SA girls put them 14th in the team stakes, only ahead of Australia.

In the junior competitions, Tumisang Monnatlala ran a brave race to end 19th and the team ended 14th of 17 teams. Then, in the women’s event, Glenrose Xaba was our best finisher in 45th spot in a field of 86 finishers. The team ended 12th.

In the athlete’s defence was the fact that due to ongoing boardroom disputes, the competitors had little time to prepare due to the late selection of the team.