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Marathon runner, 101, sad over retirement

“I do not really want to hear the word ‘retire’ because I can still run and jump on a bus. It’s a (sense of) negativity that I have never experienced before.”

One-hundred-and-one-year-old marathoner Fauja Singh.
One-hundred-and-one-year-old marathoner Fauja Singh.
Image: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

A 101-YEAR-old Sikh believed to be the world’s oldest marathon runner said today he felt sad to be retiring from competitive events, as he prepared for his last race this weekend.

Fauja Singh, nicknamed the “Turbaned Tornado”, began running at age 89 and has since completed nine marathons, but admitted that age has finally caught up with him.

“I am hurt by the fact that I am going to retire,” the Indian-born British national, who only speaks Punjabi, said through his interpreter ahead of his final race this Sunday.

“I do not really want to hear the word ‘retire’ because I can still run and jump on a bus. It’s a (sense of) negativity that I have never experienced before.”

Singh, who was a farmer in his home state of Punjab in India before settling in England, has competed in nine 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.

On Sunday the runner, who turns 102 on 1 April, will compete in the 10-kilometre event on the sidelines of the Hong Kong Marathon.

The great-great-grandfather, who lives in Ilford, said he has “mixed feelings” about retirement.

“I fear that when I stop running, people will no longer love me. At the moment, everyone loves me… I hope nobody will forget or ignore me,” he said. “When you become old, you become like a child and you want the attention.”

Singh, who weighs just 52 kilograms (115 pounds), says he does not suffer any illnesses but admitted that “racing is getting tough” for him at his age.

“I feel that I must retire on a high,” he said. “I will not stop running, but will do it for my personal health.”

- © AFP, 2012

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