A man who claims to be 116 years old and has built up quite a name for himself with his athletic ability ran the 200 metres in 46.74 seconds at the 35th National Masters Athletic Championship in this Tamil Nadu city on Wednesday.
Dharmapal Gujjar, who inevitably invokes comparison with the more known centenarian marathon runner Fauja Singh, was the only athlete in the category, as others were younger.
What’s more, he had won the 400 metres on Tuesday.
Gujjar, who claims he was born on October 6, 1897, hails from Gudha village in Meerut district in western Uttar Pradesh. What’s more, he has a Facebook profile too, which says he was born in an ordinary peasant family.
“The facilities for lavish living and higher education were very limited. Agriculture was the main occupation of the family and (I) worked hard irrespective of vagaries of weather and I too followed the traditional pursuit,” his profile states.
Gujjar’s timing for the 200 metres is awesome by any yardstick for a 116-year-old. Usain Bolt’s world record timing over the distance is 19.19 seconds.
Gujjar said he was fit and had participated in many marathons across the country, including one held in Kochi last year.
Stating that his co-workers were helping him financially to participate in the event and at times also by providing food, Gujjar said he had not sought any financial help from the government.
Gujjar said his only disappointment was he was not able to represent India in international events due to paucity of funds.
Dharam Paul Singh of Uttar Pradesh being greeted by other participants at the 35th National Master Athletic Championship 2014 in Coimbatore. (PTI photo)
With British centenarian Fauja Singh, who is of Indian descent and turns 103 this year, having called it a day, Gujjar is ostensibly not only the world’s oldest runner, but also probably the oldest person and the oldest with a Facebook profile.