Saturday, October 10, 2009
92-year-old Fauja Singh in Adidas ad
Ninety-two year old marathon runner Fauja Singh has signed a deal with Adidas for a major advertising campaign that also features footballer David Beckham, rugby ace Jonny Wilkinson and boxer Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali.
From this week, Fauja's face will adorn billboards in cities across the United Kingdom as part of a campaign called 'Impossible is Nothing'.
In athletic terms, Fauja admits he is a "late developer".
Fauja SinghFor the first 81 years of his life he lived on the family farm in India, jogging regularly "to get from one place to the next", The Times, London, reported on Tuesday.
Before the Second World War he took part in village sports competitions, in which, he recalls, being faster than many of his neighbours.
But at 36, family commitments took over - he now has four children, 13 grandchildren and five great grandchildren - and his running came to a halt.
After his wife's death, however, when he moved to England to live with his son 11 years ago, Fauja rediscovered his old passion.
Trying to cope with homesickness, language problem and endless hours to fill, Fauja sought an activity that would fulfill him mentally and physically. He found solace in running.
Initially he took part in short-distance races of five or ten kilometers. Four years ago, after a 53-year break from the sport, he lined up for his first Flora London Marathon at the age of 89. He took six hours and 54 minutes to reach the finish, and the following year ran the same time to set a world record for 90-year-olds.
Since 2000, Singh has persistently defied perceived wisdom about age being a barrier in sport by getting faster.
Last year, aged 92, he ran almost an hour quicker than he did on his debut at the 26.2 mile distance, finishing the Toronto marathon in 5 hrs 40 min, the fastest time yet recorded by someone of his age.
This year's London Marathon next month is his immediate focus, but his ultimate goal is "to enter the Guinnes Book of Records as the oldest ever to run the distance".
That means competing until he is at least 98.
Singh turns 93 next month and will be the oldest man ever to line up for the London Marathon.
But competition in the senior age groups is growing. Of 33,000 finishers in last year's race, 1,130 were over 60; more than 6,000 competitors take part in the biannual World Veteran Athletics championships.
Fauja Singh hopes to return in 2009 to break the record for the oldest marathon runner - presently held by a 98-year-old Greek athlete.
His profile as found in the face book
Born: 1st April 1911 in India
Former Occupation: Farmer
Running Career: Rediscovered at age of 81
Diet: Ginger Curry
Marathons: London (5), Toronto (1), New York (1)
Marathon Debut: London, 2000 aged 89
London Marathon Personal Best: 6h 2m
London Flora Marathon 2000 6 Hours 54 m
London Flora Marathon 2001 6 Hours 54 m
London Flora Marathon 2002 6 Hours 45 m
Bupa Great North Run (Half Marathon) 2002 2h 39m
London Flora Marathon 2003 6h 2m
Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2003 5h 40m
New York City Marathon 2003 7h 35m
London Flora Marathon 2004 6h 7m
Glasgow City Half Marathon 2004 2h 33m
Capital Radio Help a London Child 10,000m 2004 68m
Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon 2004 2h 29m 59s