KNYSNA NEWS - Gelant was born and raised in Knysna, attending Hornlee Primary School up until 2008, which was arguably his breakout year as he was spotted by SWD selectors who named him in the U13 SWD side to take part in the 2008 U13 Craven Week tournament.
Growing up, Gelant didn't think he would become a role model to many. "For me it was always to better my family and make something of myself, but I'm now incredibly grateful to be seen as a role model by younger rugby players," Gelant said.
Through efforts from his Hornlee coaches Frank Borchards and Neil Weber combined with his prowess, Gelant landed a sponsorship to attend Hoërskool Outeniqua, where his career took off.
He was selected for the SWD U16 side that played at the 2011 Grant Khomo Week (the U16 equivalent Craven Week), while the following year even though he was only U17, he represented SWD at the 2012 U18 Craven Week competition. His performances there ensured he was selected in the 2012 SA Schools team. He missed out on Craven Week selection in 2013 due to injury, but this did not prevent him from again being selected for the SA Schools side.
After high school he would move to Pretoria to join the Blue Bulls, whom he has represented at junior and senior level, while also playing rugby for the University of Pretoria as well as the Baby Boks. Before making it into the Springboks team, Gelant would first play for the Blitzbokke in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series season.
Eventually, he made his Springbok debut against Italy in 2017 and quickly earned his place in the side. He was named in the Springbok squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup by head coach Rassie Erasmus in August this year, and would make his RWC debut against Namibia in the Boks' second group stage game of the tournament.
"When I was named in the starting XV against Namibia, it was really, really special to me," a humbled Gelant said. "A lot of things go through your mind, and it really makes you think and realise how fortunate you are to be there." He scored his first RWC try during this debut game, something he again described as incredibly special.
Gelant further pointed out that he received great support "from people back home" during his time in Japan, "… from people I went to school with, people from the [Bulls] union, and especially people from Knysna," he said.
"They were with me every step of the way."
Gelant again ran out for the Boks in the group stages against Canada, scoring his second RWC try in as many games.
Even though it would be his final appearance of the tournament, he helped secure the progression to the quarterfinal for the Boks, who would make it all the way to the final where they downed England 32-12 to be crowned world champions for a record-equalling third time. Getting to lift the coveted Webb Ellis trophy is a feeling Gelant struggles to express.
"It's going to be a huge understatement if I try and describe what the feeling was like, I really can't put it into words," said Gelant, who also made mention of how amazing it is for him to be a part of history like this. He joined his Springbok counterparts for a trophy tour around South Africa earlier this month, and returned home on 20 November to a hero's welcome.
The people of Knysna lined Clyde Street in anticipation of Gelant's homecoming, a reception he did not expect. "I always knew I had a big support base in Knysna, but what I saw was something crazy," said Gelant, who upon reaching Clyde Street began tearing up as hundreds of fans from all walks of life and various demographics screamed his name. "I never knew I could be the unifying factor like this in Knysna."
Gelant then embarked on a tour of Knysna, where thousands more fans lined the streets in support.
Gelant has since returned to Pretoria to continue playing for the Bulls.
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