Gelant, who finished 20th in his debut at the global championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in March, became the first man to win both the senior men’s 4km and 12km titles at the SA Cross Country Championships in Potchefstroom on Saturday.
And after his remarkable double, achieved with less than an hour’s rest between the races, he hopes to become the first South African to step on the podium at the biennial world championships within the next four years.
“At the next World Championships (in Guiyang, China, in 2015) I’ll be aiming for a top-10 finish, which I think is realistic,” Gelant said yesterday.
“At the following World Championships, I’ll go for a top five. If you’re in the top five anything can happen.”
No South African has finished among the top-10 in the senior men’s race at the global showpiece, with Shadrack Hoff and Stephen Mokoka finishing 15th in 1996 and 2011 respectively.
Zola Budd twice won gold in the women’s 8km event, but she was representing Great Britain at the time, and Colleen de Reuck grabbed bronze in 2002, but she had changed allegiance to the United States.
In SA colours, Budd finished fourth in 1993 and De Reuck was fifth in Stellenbosch in 1996.
“I’m taking it one step at a time because the world cross country is very tough,” Gelant said.
On Saturday, Gelant won the 12km race in 37:43 and grabbed the 4km crown in 11:55.
Lebo Phalula secured gold in the women’s 8km race in 29:45 and Thembi Baloyi won the women’s 4km title in 14:07.