Age no barrier for Turbaned Torpedo

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am


When thousands of runners hit the streets in next month's Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, one will stand out from the crowd.

In what promises to be a memorable appearance, the world's oldest marathon runner, 100-year-old Fauja Singh, will take part in the 10-kilometre competition.

Nicknamed the 'Turbaned Torpedo', Singh became the oldest runner to complete a marathon last October when he ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. The Indian finished in 3,845th place, but still ahead of a handful of other competitors, with a time of eight hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds.

Singh hails from London and became a British citizen in 2003 after emigrating from India in the 1980s. Born on April 1, 1911, he speaks only Punjabi. His coach and translator Harmander Singh said the running wonder attributed his physical fitness and longevity to abstaining from smoking and alcohol and to following a vegetarian diet.

'He feels he has the blessings of all the beneficiaries of the charities he helps and it keeps him fit and healthy - not forgetting that it allows him to meet wonderful people and see parts of the world he would miss out on if he just sat on the sofa in front of the television,' Harmander Singh said.

The 100-year-old ran his first marathon in April 2000 when he finished the London Marathon. In the 2003 Toronto Marathon, he ran the course in five hours, 40 minutes and one second, setting a record in the 90-year-old and older category.

Harmander Singh said that his elderly protege got a great sense of achievement by running marathons thanks to the scenery, the support from people on the route and the attention he got afterwards, as 'in old age, like children who seek attention, his running provides him with this'.

It will be Fauja Singh's first visit to Hong Kong after he accepted an invitation from the city's Sikh community. 'He felt it would be a good thing if others in the region were to become inspired to get fit and stay fit and healthy,' Harmander Singh said.

Running helped Fauja Singh find a new focus in life and encouraged him to help others through fund-raising for charities - a key tenet of the Sikh religion. His advice for a long and healthy life is to stay stress-free, eat to live not live to eat, avoid negativity, and be grateful to the creator.