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92-year-old NRI on marathon trail-blazer

London: Age was certainly not a barrier for 92-year-old NRI Fauja Singh as he set a world best time in the over-90 age group in the London Marathon, which was won by Britain’s Paula Radcliffe.

It is the indomitable spirit that guided Fauja to create a niche for himself in the London Marathon on Sunday, finishing ahead of almost 10,000 younger men and women to finish 22,870th in 6::11:09 seconds.

After giving up running at 36 and returning to it at 89, he runs about 15 km every day and relaxes with warm baths, ginger curries and meditation.

Fauja has now set his eyes on the next marathon in Toronto in September, followed by the one in New York in November and London again next April.

He is not concerned that such strenuous exercise may be too much for him. “You only die once, so you might as well put your life to good use,” Fauja said.

When his training was interrupted in February due to personal reasons, he was less than pleased. “He did not train for two weeks and that upset him,” Harmander Singh, his coach, said.

Fauja came to Britain ten years ago to join his son and family.

“His wife had passed away and he came here to live,” Amarjit, his daughter-in-law, said. “He watched other old people going to community centres and playing cards and said he did not want to do that.”

Seeking a hobby, Fauja returned to the running conquests of his youth.

His coach said: “Fauja started taking part in Sikh sports days, challenging pensioners to sprints, then five and 10-km races. The marathon was the next step.”

A father of four, with 13 grandchildren and five great grandchildren, Fauja has also ran in aid of Bliss, a charity for premature births.

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