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Monday, February 6, 2012

Hail the spirit of World's oldest Marathoner - Fauja Singh

How fit are you and would you consider completing “10 km in 94 minutes” would be considered a great achievement ?  -  Never jump to any conclusion before you have full facts.  You have to perforce to know the age at least ?  His biography is titled "Turbaned Tornado", which was formally released in the Attlee Room of Britain's House of Lords on July 7, 2011 by Lord Anthony Young of Norwood Green and retired British Supreme Court judge Sir Mota Singh. The 114-page book, penned by journalist and writer Khushwant Singh, traces the runner's roots and tries to capture his life's journey, understanding the impact of Fauja on the world around him. 

There are Marathons and Half-marathons ! As you would know, a  half marathon is a road running event of 21.0975 kilometres (13.1094 mi).    The Eritrean long distance runner  Zersenay Tadese  currently holds the men's half marathon world record. His bronze medal in the 10,000 metres at the 2004 Athens.  He currently holds the World Record having the run the distance in 58:23 secs.   The women’s record is much lower at 65:50 held by Mary Jepkosgei Keitany  of Kenya
 Keitanya of Kenya

In 2004, he was 92 and age did not deter the  marathon runner Fauja Singh from signing a deal with Adidas for a major advertising campaign 'Impossible is Nothing'. On Sunday, 5th Feb 2012, he lived up to the adage by completing the 10 km in 94 minutes in Hong Kong Marathon.

After charming scores of fans with his amazing feats, centenarian British-Indian athlete Fauja Singh, surprised Hong Kongers, completing a 10-km run. “The weather was very pleasant, I enjoyed the race very much,” Singh, popularly known as the “Turbaned Torpedo,” was quoted as saying   after crossing the finishing line in one hour and 34 minutes. He attributed his fitness to a healthy lifestyle totally insulated from cigarette and alcohol, raised 2,00,000 Hong Kong dollars (USD 25,800) for acharity through the event.

Ironically, even as Singh achieved the feat, a 26-year-old male runner fainted after completing the race and was declared “brought dead” in hospital.

Fauja Singh was born on  April 1, 1911. Singh has participated in various international events including the 2003 London Marathon, where he recorded his current personal best time of 6 hours and 2 minutes.  He is claimed as saying that he wont stop running until his death and at a time when people would even struggle to walk, he is running !   He has been running and at the age of 100 (and a half), Singh attempted and accomplished eight world age group records in one day, at the special Ontario Masters Association Fauja Singh Invitational Meet, held at Birchmount Stadium in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Timed by officials in Canada.  Three days later, on October 16, 2011, Singh became the first 100 year old to complete a marathon, running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8:11:06.  In October 2011, Singh, a vegetarian, also became the oldest man to be featured in a PETA campaign.

Singh claims to be the world's oldest marathoner but has been denied entry into the Guinness World Records as he failed to produce his birth certificate.  He was able to produce a passport listing his date of birth as April 1, 1911, and a letter from Queen Elizabeth II congratulating him on his 100th birthday.  Guinness World Records  reportedly stated  "Although we appreciate the great running achievement of Mr Singh, we simply cannot acknowledge the title for the 'oldest marathon runner' until we have a copy of an original birth certificate."  To them, passport could only be a supporting evidence, the key piece is birth  certificate.   A letter from the Indian government stating that no birth records were kept in 1911 was also submitted, as was a statement vouching for Singh's age from a former neighbour in India; but these, too, have failed to impress Guinness World Records.

Whether Guinness acknowledges or not, his feat of  10 km in 94 minutes in Hong Kong event at ripe age of  101 + 9 M is a very great achievement. 

Hail and salute the performance and indomitable spirit of Fauja Singh

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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