Elroy Gelant will lead a 20-member South African team at the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala later this month.
Gelant, who set a national 5 000m record of 13:04.88 on the track last season, displayed good form last week when he won the 10 000m race in 28:16.54 at the Speed Series meeting in Durban, after battling windy conditions in a lone effort.
The versatile athlete finished 20th in the senior men’s 12km race in Bydgoszcz in 2013, in his only previous appearance at the biennial off-road showpiece.
Athletics SA confirmed in a notice to members this week that Gelant would be joined in the men’s race in Kampala by Thabang Mosiako, Joel Mmone, David Manja and Precious Mashele.
The women’s team would be led by national cross country champion Kesa Molotsane who set a personal best of 16:08.20 to win the women’s 5 000m race in Durban last week. She would race alongside Louisa Leballo, Andrea Steyn, Glenrose Xaba and Sherilene Gelderblom.
The rest of the SA team would consist of five-member squads in the junior men’s 8km and junior women’s 6km contests.
With the likes of Stephen Mokoka, Irvette van Zyl and Lebo Phalula all focussing on marathon races this season, Gelant was the only member of the team to have finished in the top 20 in any category at the biennial event.
While the senior men and women previously competed over 12km and 8km distances respectively, this year’s edition of the World Cross Country Championships was set to be the first to hold 10km races in both categories, in line with international rule changes made last year.
Meanwhile, in a bizarre announcement to members, ASA claimed athletes would compete only as teams and would not be entered as individuals after they apparently failed to show good form in the build-up.
“ASA has decided not to enter any individual for the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships,” the federation said.
“ASA will, however, enter a team in all four of the categories.”
Despite the statement, South African athletes would have to be entered into the individual races at the global championships in order to be considered for the team event.
The team competition would, as always, be calculated based on points accumulated by athletes in each of the four individual races.
This year’s off-road spectacle, to be held in Kampala on March 26, would also include a mixed relay event for the first time after the International Association of Athletics Federations added the new event to the championship programme.