A 100-year-old man began Thursday with a sprint and ended with eight world records.
Fauja Singh ran through eight track events in succession at Birchmount Stadium in Scarborough as part of a charity event, Sikhs in the City.
Singh, who lives in England but hails from India, is in town to compete in Sunday’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as he tries to set a Guinness World Record. Along the way, he decided to crush a few records.
Singh began by breezing through 100 metres in 23.40 seconds. Usain Bolt holds the all-ages record at 9.58 seconds. Singh destroyed the previous record for a 100-year-old by more than six seconds. The races became progressively longer and culminated in the 5,000-metre event.
He scared the crowd in that event when he needed to walk for a few laps. But it was just a leg cramp, which abated after a calf massage and a glass of salt water.
“I didn’t push myself hard enough today,” Singh said in Punjabi to a chorus of laughter.
“I think I’ll let him race Sunday,” said a serious Harmander Singh, his coach and interpreter. “This injury is nothing.”
While Fauja Singh struggled to keep up with his competitors throughout the day — some were 60 years younger — he bested a 61-year-old woman in three races.
Nachhatar Kaur wasn’t as swift as Singh in the 100-metre, 200-metre or 800-metre races.
“I really should have done better,” she said with a huge smile, “since he has 40 years on me. But he’s inspired me to keep running.”
Running — and smashing records — gave Singh some focus following the death of his wife and son. He became suicidal after watching a piece of sheet metal decapitate his son. Then he moved to England to be near his other son.