If there's ever been a late start in life, Fauja Singh is the epitome of it. This Indian born resident of Britain ran and completed his first marathon at the age of 89, a feat spanning 26.2 miles in 6 hours and 54 minutes. From one continent to the other, the Sikh centenarian who turned up for his first training session in a three piece suit, has since sped his way into people's hearts inspiring confidence. Now at the plum age of 101, he seems even more enthusiastic than before.
In a recent interview with the BBC, The marathon man has said that the London Marathon on April 22, 2012 will be his last run. His coach since 1999, Harmandar Singh does not view his pupil's age as a deterrent, but as something that he loves doing. Quoting a song by Punjabi singer Gurdas Mann, Fauja Singh says, "Forget about age, the heart should be young. And so I don't think of myself as old, else I will feel weak. "
But none of the fame that he has achieved fazes him. He's shared space with David Beckham in an ad in 2004 making him a much talked about face. He's received birthday wishes from the Queen of England on turning 100. And he's had a book written about him. Indian author Khushwant Singh's [not to be mistaken with Khushwant Singh] book Turbaned Tornado details Fauja's life through the years. While most people would rejoice at being the subject of such a book, Fauja Singh took little pleasure in the book, because he is illiterate.
Born in 1911 in Beas Pind in Jalandhar in Punjab Singh lived the better part of his life in the very same village. While not much is known about his early days, the now-centenarian moved to England in 1992 to live with his son after his wife passed away. Left with nothing to do with his time, he took to running to stay fit and keep himself occupied. Little did he imagine that his achievements at his age would thrust him into the limelight. From London to Dubai to Los Angeles, Fauja Singh runs wherever he can, spanning countries, continents and many records. Yet, one still eludes him. The Guinness Book of World Records refuses to identify him as the oldest marathon runner, simply because he doesn't have his birth certificate to confirm his age.
None of this deters Fauja Singh. He continues to run his usual 10 miles everyday, often making the morning paper's headlines along the way.