Centenarians are expected to take life easy. But 101-year-old Mann Kaur would rather throw a javelin or a shot put, hit the gym, eat like an athlete – and win a race.
Dubbed the ‘Miracle from Chandigarh’, she shot to fame after winning the 100-metre sprint at the World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand, earlier this year.
Kaur was recently in the news after she was denied a visa by China, where she was to have taken part in a championship.
But the grandmother, who now trains in Patiala after moving to the city from Chandigarh about a year ago, is not unduly troubled by that and is looking forward to her next sprint.
“Practice and participation in events give me happiness,” Kaur told PTI over the phone from Patiala when asked what drove her to compete.
Though her achievements on the field are well known, not many would be aware of the secret behind her fitness at 101.
Talking about Kaur’s wellness mantra, her son Gurdev Singh, who also takes part in international races and athletic events, said her diet was similar to that of any young athlete preparing for a competition.
“She has six ‘rotis’, prepared with sprouted wheat, sprouted ‘kala chana’ and barley every day,” he said.
Apart from the rotis, she has a diet of soya milk, seasonal fruits, juices and ‘kefir’ (fermented milk), which they get from Canada, Singh said.
Kaur also trains regularly, varying her regimen from day to day.
Her 79-year-old son said on some days she goes for a run, and on other days she practises her javelin or shot put throw.
“On certain days, she goes to the gym and does weight training,” he said.
Asked what advice she’d give the younger generation, Kaur, who speaks only in Punjabi, said what any grandmother would.
“Eat well, eat healthy and exercise regularly. Don’t eat unhealthy food and stay away from junk food. And be friends with good people,” said Kaur, who took up athletics when she was 93.
While the mother-son duo have earned global laurels, it has not been an easy run for them in a country where cricket tends to elbow out other sports.
They rue that recognition and rewards have eluded them in their home country. “She gets so much love and respect abroad,” Singh pointed out.
When they reached New Zealand, they found the world media waiting for Kaur.
“And when she won the gold in the 100 metres, top officials in New Zealand invited her for dinner to honour her,” Singh said.
“But in India there was not a single person who came to receive us at the airport,” he added.
Singh, who along with his mother has taken part in dozens of Masters Athletic meets around the globe, hastened to add that lack of interest or accolades in India didn’t trouble them much.
“We don’t care about these things. We will continue doing what we love,” he said.
Kaur, who has been nominated for the prestigious ‘Laureus World Best Sporting Moment of the Year 2017’ Award, won her first medal in 2010 at the Chandigarh Masters Athletics meet.
Laureus World Sports Awards, established by Laureus Sport for Good Foundation founding patrons Daimler and Richemont, honour remarkable individuals from the world of sports.
At the World Masters Games in Auckland this year, she won the gold in the 100 metres, clocking one minute and 14 seconds.
Run by an association of international federations, the Games seek to “promote lifelong competition, friendship and understanding between mature sportspeople...”
Kaur and Singh were last month denied a visa by China on the grounds that they did not have a personal invitation from the organisers of the Asian Masters Athletics Championships.
The mother and son, however, have moved on and already set their sights on the World Masters in Spain next year, as they continue to prove that age is just a number for them.