This mom and son running duo will give you serious fitness and parenting goals, writes Capt Seshadri.
While it is quite customary to hear of couples running together, or even families running for fun, it must be quite a rarity to see a centenarian mom and her septuagenarian son in competitive athletics, that too in World Masters competitions across the globe.
If ninety three is a ripe old age to start an athletics career, Mann Kaur epitomises it. Having watched her 71 year old son Gurdev Singh run a race at Patiala, sometime in 2007, Kaur was inspired to start running, ‘just for the heck of it’. If genius were truly 1% inspiration, this nonagenarian genius proved that it is also 99% perspiration, by beginning her training in real earnest. Preparing for the Chandigarh Masters Athletic Meet, she sprinted 50 m five times and each of 100 m and 200 m at least once each, every alternate day. That was to prove more than sufficient for the ‘Miracle Mom from Chandigarh’. In 2007, at the very same meet, she won her first medal. There was no looking back at the track.
Mom Kaur and son Gurdev have participated in several Masters Athletics meets around the world. In 2017, in Auckland, where over 18,000 competitors from over a hundred countries participated in 28 disciplines in these quadrennial games, Mann and Gurdev once again covered themselves in glory. While the ‘younger’ Gurdev won silver in the long jump, bronze in the 100 m and was placed 4th in the 200 m, golden girl Mann Kaur finished first in all her three events – the 100 and 200 m and the shot put, in the process earning her 17th international gold medal.
The dashing duo was well prepared for the World Championships at Rugao, China, but were sorely disappointed at not being granted visas. They were supremely confident of more medals and more glory for India. Sadly however, that was not to be. A consolation of sorts came by with Mann Kaur being featured as one among just six nominees worldwide, for the Laureus World Sports Awards in 2017. This award is an annual feature, often considered the ‘Oscar’ of sports, to honour sporting individuals and teams for consistent achievements throughout the year. Kaur, although unlucky to have lost out to Usain Bolt, can count her name against sporting luminaries like Tiger Woods and Roger Federer.
In Canada, where she is now settled, Mann Kaur is to be bestowed a lifetime achievement award. Her happiness is in getting to travel across the globe at her advanced age.” Kaur attributes her longevity and athletic prowess to her healthy lifestyle of clean living and a diet of boiled vegetables and wheat bread. “If you take junk food, then how can you run? I avoid fried food”, is her mantra. This simple centenarian world beater, who has even run a non-stop 3 km race in Mohali, near her home town of Chandigarh, along with legendary centenarian marathoner Fauja Singh, has this to say: “I will continue to run and take part in competitions as long as I can. It gives me a lot of happiness when I run. I believe that age is no bar to chase and realise your dreams.”
Age is no bar indeed. All you need is a road to run on.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.