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101-year-old marathon runner Fauja Singh talks retirement plans after return from Hong Kong

PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 March 2013

Fauja Singh (left) and his coach Harmander, who completed the Hong Kong marathon

Fauja Singh (left) and his coach Harmander, who completed the Hong Kong marathon

Archant

Record-breaking 101-year-old runner Fauja Singh is showing no signs of slowing down after retiring from competitive races – and is still walking 10 miles a day.

The Goodmayes resident has been on a hectic schedule of engagements since jetting back from Hong Kong, where he completed his final race over 10km last week.

Fauja, believed to be the oldest marathon runner in the world after running in Toronto and London in 2011 and 2012, filled the Recorder in on his retirement plans in the Ilford home of his coach, Harmander Singh.

The Indian-born Turbaned Tornado, as he is known, will be travelling again to Australia on March 20 to officiate in their Sikh Games, and he will be honoured at an event at University of London.

Speaking in Punjabi through Harmander, Fauja said: “Running has given joy to an illiterate farmer from a rural village.

The coach and his star runner

Fauja first came to Harmander and the Sikhs in the City running group to ask for help in preparing for his first marathon.

And he turned up for his first training session in a three-piece suit and his trainers.

Harmander, who completed the Hong Kong marathon on the same weekend Fauja finished his final race, said: “I told him the Old Bill will be after you, they’ll think you’re running from the scene of a crime.”

As his coach, Harmander has helped Fauja with his running technique and his travel engagements.

And the 101-year-old’s zeal for life was clear as he asked Harmander whether he should renew his passport for another 10 years.

“I’ve seen the world, I rubbed shoulders with the aristocracy, with the Queen and it’s given me good health. It’s been positive, every single step.”

He first started running in his early 80s after moving to England and went on to complete nine marathons and break records as a 100-year-old runner at distances from 100 to 5,000 metres.

Showing his skinny wrists which his watch was nearly falling off, he admitted his “body is not what it used to be” and he did fall for the first time during the Hong Kong race.

He said: “My spirit is still strong. It is great to have had the attention for an old man, to not be ignored.”

Harmander said he is now managing a programme for his oldest protégé to keep him busy for the next six months and Fauja already walks 10 miles between his home, his son’s home and the gurdwaras in Ilford and Seven Kings every day.

Fauja said: “I’ve loved meeting the people and I did it because they loved to meet me, regardless of race or religion.”


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