Gaston Roelants was born on 5 February 1937 in Opvelp, Belgium. He was the world's best steeplechaser in the early 1960's and a great cross-country runner.
At the steeplechase he won the 1962 European and 1964 Olympic titles as well as setting two world records, 8 minutes 29.6 seconds in 1963 and 8 minutes 26.4 seconds in 1965.
He had been 4th in the steeplechase at the 1960 Olympics, and after a Bronze at the 1966 Europeans he turned with great success to longer distances, setting world records at the 20 km distance (58 minutes 6.2 seconds) and the 1 hour race (20,664 meters) that year and later improving those records to 57 minutes 44.4 seconds and 20,878 meters in 1972. He won a Silver (1969) and a Bronze (1974) in European marathon races.
He equalled the record by winning four International cross-country titles (1962, 1967, 1969 and 1972) with three second places and in all nine top 10 placings between 1960 and 1975. His long career continued into his 40's and he won five world titles in his first year in veterans' ranks.