Proving that age isn’t a barrier to outstanding accomplishments, a British Empire Medal (BEM) has been awarded to 103-year-old runner Fauja Singh. He is a keen charity supporter and champion for Age UK, and is widely recognised as the oldest marathon runner in the world.
His trainer Harmander Singh said the runner had responded to the news of the honour by saying: “It has extended my life by several years.”
“He feels so energised and enthusiastic and inspired by this he will put in extra effort to become more active,” Harmander said.
“He wanted to thank Her Majesty for remembering him,” he added.
The centenarian, who originally comes from India and does not speak English, still covers 10 miles a day through a mixture of walking and jogging.
Based in Essex, Fauja Singh is a keen charity supporter and champion of Age UK. He took up running aged 89 and carried the Olympic flame through east London in 2012.
He is widely recognised as the oldest marathon runner in the world, having completed nine marathons since 2000.
His last was the London Marathon in 2012, when he finished in seven hours and 49 minutes.
His best time was five hours and 40 minutes in Toronto in 2003.
Although he will turn 104 in April, Fauja still leads an active lifestyle.
Most days he walks about a mile and a half to the local Gurdwara (Sikh temple) before walking three miles to his son’s plumbing and heating business to see him.
Harmander said the pensioner also runs errands for other people who are less fortunate than him and is unwilling to use his bus pass.
He said: “He walks fairly briskly. He says I don’t want to over use my bus pass. He’d rather walk.”
Fauja has also lent his support to charities and is a champion for Age UK.
Asked whether he would keep going with his achievements, Harmander said Fauja replied: “That’s up to God. I think I have done everything I can but if he gives me more chances I will carry on.”
Fauja was motivated to start running following the death of his wife, son and daughter in a short space of time.
After completing some shorter runs he decided to sign up for a marathon and was introduced to Harmander who has trained him since.
Although Harmander has now retired Fauja from marathons, he said: “He says he doesn’t consider himself old. The moment he considers himself old that will be the end of it. The moment he stops running that will kill him.”