Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Legacy of Fauja Singh, the marathon runner – by Col R.D. Singh

Legacy of Fauja Singh, the marathon runner – by Col R.D. Singh (Retd.)
SIRSA NEWS ( www.SirsaNews.com )
12, March 2013
Pictures and Videos: Amar Singh Jyani, GS Mann, Background Music: Murari Verma

Most people at 89 can not even walk without support, and here is Fauja Singh who ran a full marathon of 26.2 miles in record 5:40 hrs in London at that age.

With nine marathons and several  winning runs ( ranging from 200m to 3000m)  to his credit, the ‘Turbaned Tornado’ hanged his racing shoes after his last marathon in Hong Kong on 24 February. He finished the 10 Kms race in 92 minutes at the age of 101 plus. “Running is my life” said the proud centenarian marathon runner as he bid a tearful goodbye to marathons.
Fauja has created a sensation, and changed our thinking as regards the old age and fitness. We are senior citizens at 60, hold a walking stick at 80, and quite a few of us bed ridden by 90. On our birthdays, children gift us with walking sticks, medicine boxes, BP apparatus etc. No one cares to present us with walking shoes, and a sports T shirts, because they think 80 or 90 is no age to for serious physical activity. We are expected to rest and meditate, waiting for the D day. We succumb to inactivity, and ailments, becoming a burden for others.

Fauja changed it all.  With no education, and a humble Punjab farmer background, one day, following the loss of his wife and son, he just took to running in his 80s, while staying with his son in London. That was his way of overcoming the depression following the loss of loved ones.   Focused, determined, running daily with a purpose, he kept running one marathon after another, as he progressed towards the Age of 100. He kept winning race after race, be it 200m or 3000m. The world was amazed at his will power and stamina. He set a world record of running a full marathon at Toronto in 2011, as the oldest runner, at the age of 100. Sadly, the record was not recognized by the Guinness World Records because he does not have a  birth certificate to prove his age. However, he has a British passport that shows his date of birth as 01April 1911, and a letter from Queen Elizabeth II congratulating him on his 100th birthday.  Adidas featured him in an ad campaign for sportswear, alongside David Beckham and Muhammad Ali in 2004.

Even today, the ‘Running Baba’, is full of life and positivity.  Nearing 102, Fauja suffers from no physical ailment, and wishes to continue running to raise funds for charity, and to motivate the young and old to remain fit. The biggest contribution of Fauja Singh, I feel, is that he has made the old to feel young, and set a personal example in physical fitness. “Nothing is impossible”, and “ you are never too old to run” are the endearing legacies of the Tornado Torpedo. May the Fauja spirit prevail in all our challenges..

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