As he turned a memorable 101-years-old Sunday, Sikh marathoner Fauja Singh did not have his birthday celebrations on his mind at his London home. Instead, the oldest athlete on earth is busy preparing for his next event — the London Marathon — on April 22.
Getting up early Sunday at his Ilford-London home, Fauja was on the tracks to run six laps as the 'Sikhs in the City' team organized an event in London to run 101 laps of two km each to commemorate his 101st birthday.
Even at 101, what is top-most on his mind is the preparation for the London Marathon for which he is already training and not his birthday cake.
“Mere coach ne mainu dovara jinda kar ditta hai (my coach has given me a fresh lease of life),” Fauja Singh told his Chandigarh-based biographer Khushwant Singh.
Last year, Fauja Singh had become, perhaps the only man in the world to have lived a 100 years to see his biography being released at that age. The biography ‘Turbaned Tornado’ was released at the House of Lords in London in July last year.
As Fauja Singh prepares for the London marathon, no insurance company in Britain is ready to issue him a policy for the event.
“No company here is ready to insure him. We are willing to accept insurance even from India from anyone who has the confidence in Fauja's ability,” Fauja's coach Harmandar Singh said.
“Recently, when I spoke to him, he was not sure on whether he should run the full or half marathon. He asked me for suggestions and then he said ‘Je marna hi hai taan poori da lambha le ke maraan’ (If I have to die then I should be blamed for running the full one,” Khushwant said.
His biographer has one regret: “He has shown the true genes of the Sikhs as a tough race. But the state (Punjab) of his birth has not come forward to honour him. It’s a sad reflection of our priorities.”