- Posted September 9, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
The ageless Punjabi Marathon runner.
Fauja Singh a British centenarian marathon runner of Punjabi Sikh descent. He is a world record holder in his age bracket. His current personal best time for the London Marathon (2003) is 6 hours 2 minutes, and his marathon record, for age 90-plus. He also secured a spot in the Guinness World Book of Records last year at the Scotia bank Toronto - Canada Waterfront Marathon.
This 100-year-old (unconfirmed by Indian Government) accomplished an amazing feat, completing the grueling 42.195kilometre marathon and becoming the oldest person ever to complete a full-distance marathon. It took Mr. Singh over eight hours to cross the finish line. He also in 2004 was featured in an advertising campaign for a major international sportswear manufacturer alongside David Beckham and Muhammad Ali. He was born in Beas Pind (village), Jalandhar, Punjab, in British India on 1 April 1911(it must be noted here that the Indian government has refused to verify these dates) becuase of which Mr Singh has been denied a entry in the “Guinness book of world record”.The youngest of four children, Fauja did not develop the ability to walk until he was five years old. His legs were thin and weak, and he could hardly walk long distances. As a young man, Fauja was an avid amateur runner, but he had to give it up and return to farming mainly due to family circumstances around the 1947 India-Pakistan Partition.
At 89 years, he took seriously to running and ended up in international events. Singh ran his first race, the London Marathon, in the year 2000. According to his coach, he used to run up to 20 kilometers easily and wanted to run a marathon, thinking it to be just 26 kilometers and not 26 miles (42 kilometers). It was after he realized this that he began training seriously.
Singh shot to fame when, at the age of 93, when he completed the grueling 26.2 mile distance in 6 hours and 54 minutes. This knocked 58 minutes off the previous world best for anyone in the 90-plus age bracket.
His biography, titled "Turbaned Tornado", was formally released in the Attlee Room of Britain's House of Lords on 7 July 2011 by Lord Anthony Young of Norwood Green and retired British Crown Court judge Sir Mota Singh. The 114-page book, penned by Chandigarh-based columnist and writer Khushwant Singh (not to be confused with Khushwant Singh, the prominent Indian novelist and journalist), traces the runner's roots and tries to capture his life's journey, including the impact of Fauja on the world around him.
On his last visit to Canada in 2012 he was gracious enough to take time out from his busy schedule and met with local ethnic media outlets in Brampton – Ontario, smooth straight talker and a humble person by nature. When one questions him expect a detailed answer not just a sugarcoated one as he seemed very disturbed and upset with the Indian government’s attitude towards its minorities as he himself has been a victim. But never the less admitted that life has to go on this we all agreed with him. One could not help but just admire the warmth in his speech and handshake. He has nothing else but praise for the love his fans have shown towards him all around the world.
He message especially towards the youth and fellow human beings is just “have strong will powers” and for sure one can achieve all.
Our prayers and best wishes are with him and we salute his determination and many more like him all around the world.
Photo & Write - up Akbar Warris 416-371-9849.