At 103, Man Kaur has become oldest athlete in the annual calendar of World Masters Athletics. The ‘Miracle from Chandigarh’, who took to running at 93, is the second Indian to reach this milestone after Delhi’s Hardev Singh.
The sprightly great-grandmother won four gold medals in the track and field events (60m dash, 200m sprint, shot put, and javelin throw) of The World Masters Athletics Championship in Torun, Poland – a giant step for Man.
Man Kaur: “I want to win more. No one has helped me but I still want to run, because running gives me happiness. Chasing time, I want to set new world records in all the events in which I participate.” She has three children, 10 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
Patiala-born Man Kaur joined athletics at 93 when her son, Gurdev Singh, started taking her to the Panjab University grounds and found her good enough to compete with senior women around the world. The 80-year-old coach said: “She trains daily, runs every alternate day, and works on her upper body.”
What she eats
Gurdev Singh credits his mother’s incredible fitness at an advanced age to her active lifestyle and nutritious diet. He said: “She takes only homemade food, nothing fried, and nothing prepared in restaurant. Every day, she must have wheat grass, nuts, and seeds. But the secret to her health is staying positive and keeping busy.”
Journey, so far
Even without professional training and despite severe osteoporosis and curved spine, the centenarian hopes to enjoy athletics for many more years and even improve. Man Kaur told TOI: “I will run as long as Guru’s (God’s) grace is with me. Even with all the health challenges, I have improved my performance and can do even better with medical help.”
Recalling her first medal at the Chandigarh Master’s in 2010 with which she started her journey to fame, Gurdev Singh said: “David Premnath, general secretary of the Masters Athletic Federation of India, told me after the event that she had the potential to win at the international level, so I began taking her to more competitions.”
Invited to Patiala for a 5-kilometre run (of which she ran the first few hundred metres) after winning the Canadian competition in 2016, Man Kaur was offered a night’s stay at the city’s royal palace where she used to work as a maid once for a monthly pay of Rs 10. She was put in the bedroom of the queen she used to serve.