It is easy when faced with a 101 year-old athlete to forget that her son, who has been competing for many years will be 80 next year, and is still training hard & winning medals. But I'm afraid impressive as that is, and it surely deserves a blog of its own, it is eclipsed by this unassuming, sharp, active & fit 'old lady'. I use that term with respect because it is probably the only time it can be used politely and meaningfully. Over a century is definitely old, and to be running round a sprinting track? Disgracefully wonderful. She has set the bar so high none of us can ever hope to reach it. This lady only started running at the modest age of 93 & is now the world record holder in a number of events.
Her son, Gurdev, normally does translating for her as she is fluent in just her native tongue, but the interview was conducted in Punjabi by Gagan Rayat, a lifestyle & fitness professional keen to pick up any tips he could to pass on to his audience. Gagan runs a FaceBook Group page called Vand Chhako (the third pillar of Sikhism) where lifestyle and fitness tips are shared freely. Check it out on FaceBook now. Man Kaur also set another record while she was in Auckland for the World Masters Games. She became the world's oldest skywalker, stepping out onto the Sky Tower's walking track. She credits her good health to excellent nutrition and regular exercise and I have no doubt that is true, but she sparkles with something indefinable - I can only describe it as a joy for life - that affects all around her. It isn't just her body that is strong, it's her spirit as well. How else would she be able to compete in the way she is when she has severe osteoporosis of the spine? The doctors are baffled, but she just keeps on living life to the fullest.
She captured the hearts of everyone she encountered here. Inspiration is such an inadequate word for someone who has achieved what she has, and is not finished by a long straight yet! In my own experience, her son is of an age where he should have been 'taking it easy' in our normal western parlance for a number of years, but they are both living proof that this approach simply leads to deterioration. 'Use it or lose' is the appropriate phrase here. Abolish 'retirement' and all such age-defining barriers and simply keep on striving. You too could be setting records well into advanced years. Having recently been on a 100-day diet-redefining exercise, I am more than normally open to the ideas of simple natural nutrition, but this pair's healthy lifestyle is impossible to refute. It takes effort & focus, but we can all lead much longer, healthier lives if we simply paid attention to what our bodies really need, and don't need.
A great deal has been written about Man Kaur - just Google her - and she added to the story here in Auckland by breaking world records and collecting 4 more Gold medals. It was an honour for me to meet her and her son. I hope you enjoy the interview we recorded (sub-titled - thank you Gagan - for those not fluent in Punjabi) & below you'll also find some of the images I shot in the short time we were together.
Auckland - May 2017
Interviewed by Gagan Rayat close to the Sikh temple in Takanini where they stayed while in Auckland