WE ARE ALWAYS being told that it’s never too late to take up a new sport, but very few of us imagine we’d become a gold medal winning athlete once we did.
However that didn’t deter Man Kaur, from Chandighar India, who took up sprinting rather late in life, at the age of 93-years-young, following encouragement from her son Gurdev Singh, 78.
Eight years later, the remarkable athlete has just won her 20th medal at the World masters Games in Auckland New Zealand.
The World Masters Games is an international multi-sport event held every four years which, in terms of competitor numbers, has developed into the largest of its kind.
Anyone can participate in the games so long as they are over the age of 35 though some sports will allow athletes who are younger than that. Participants compete for themselves – there are no country delegations.
Beyond the age requirement and membership in that sport’s governing body, there are no competition qualification requirements.
The 101-year-old Indian athlete said she feels like a hero after picking up her first gold medal at the New Zealand World Masters Games.
Man Kaur won gold, and the heart of the crowd, when she completed the 100m sprint at the 2017 World Masters Games in Auckland on Monday.
Ms Kaur is the only contender in the over 100 age grade, so effectively, unless she falls over and fails to finish, the 101 year old is guaranteed a Gold medal every time she takes to the field.
But that isn’t the point, as World Masters Games director Dianne McAteer succinctly pointed out, Ms Kaur is “just everything that World Masters Games epitomises”.
“It’s a sport for life, it’s being active, it’s about not letting age be a barrier to being active so she’s amazing.”
Ms Kaur completed the 100 metres in a personal best time of, one minute and 14 seconds, but didn’t rest on her laurels, through a translator she told TV reporters she feels like she’s “Mother India”
She went on to win another three gold medals during the remainder of the week, in the 200 metre sprint, the shotput and in the javelin, competition, where she set a new record for her age group of five metres.
Speaking to the press afterwards the ecstatic winner of 20 medals said, “I’m going to run again, I’m not going to give up. I will participate, there’s no full stop.”
Speaking to the Canadian Press, her son said: “When she wins, she goes back to India, and she’s excited to tell others, ‘I have won so many medals from this country.’ Winning makes her happy.”
When training at home in Chandigarh, Kaur runs a number of short distances every evening – and she believes other women should follow in her footsteps.
“She encourages them, old ladies, that they should run, they should not eat wrong foods, and they should encourage their children also to take part in the Games,” said her son.
So, the question is, will Man Kaur be back to defend her titles at the next World Masters Games in Kansai Japan in 2021 at the age of 105?
And the answer is rhetorical… Would you back against it?