101-year-old marathon runner shines during last race
By Beh Lih Yi ,AFPHONG KONG -- A 101-year-old Sikh believed to be the world's oldest distance runner retired Sunday after ending his last race in Hong Kong on a high, describing it as one of the “happiest days” of his long life.
February 25, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
Fauja Singh, nicknamed the “Turbaned Tornado”, finished the 10-kilometer (6-mile) run at the Hong Kong Marathon in 1 hour, 32 minutes and 28 seconds — half a minute faster than at the same event last year.
“Today is one of my happiest days,” the Indian-born British national, who only speaks Punjabi, said through his interpreter after he crossed the finishing line with a broad smile and waving the Hong Kong flag.
“I felt so fresh and so good. I felt I'm full of power today.
“I will remember this day and I will miss it, but I will not stop running for charity,” added Singh, who was mobbed by supporters when he completed his final competitive event, weeks before he turns 102 on April 1.
The centenarian, a farmer in his home state of Punjab before settling in England, became an international sensation and made headlines worldwide after he took up the sport at the ripe age of 89.
He has since completed nine 42-kilometer (26-mile) marathons in London, Toronto and New York. His best time was in Toronto, where he clocked five hours, 40 minutes and four seconds.
The great-great-grandfather has said that while he is quitting competitive events, he will not stop running for personal fitness.
In Hong Kong Sunday he ran with 100 supporters from a community group “Sikhs in the City”, forming a group of 101 to mark his age.
The 101-year-old, who has attributed his longevity to a positive attitude and simple lifestyle, was in high spirits and cracked jokes with journalists several times after finishing the race.
“Actually I was expecting a much faster (finishing time),” he laughed.
“When I reached midpoint, people reminded me that it was halfway already, though I thought it was only one-third of it,” said Singh, whose name Fauja means “soldier.”
He was one of the top fund raisers at the event, after raising HK$160,000 (US$20,630) for a charity to help disabled athletes in Hong Kong.