He started running at the age of 19 but fatigue has not caught up with him even at 72.
Tiparia Tiu, the oldest athlete in Jharkhand, is busy gearing up for 35th National Masters Athletics Championship to be held at Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, from February 24 to 27.
Tiu, who hails from Chaibasa in West Singhbhum, has won nearly 600 medals, including 106 gold in a career spanning five decades.
“Abhi to aur daudna hai. Thaka kahan hoon. Coimbatore mein swarna padak jitna hain (Have to continue running. I am not tired. Want to win gold in Coimbatore),” the septuagenarian said.
Tiu’s frail form conceals his stamina that can give young athletes a run for their money. He runs 10km daily and devotes time to stretching exercises. “Mera sharir mehnat se bana hain. Abhi bhi bahut dum kham rakhta hu (I have worked on my body. I still have lot left in me),” Tiu, who has donned India jerseys in International Masters’ competition, told The Telegraph.
In his youth, Tiu represented Bihar and won medals in sprint, long distance races, long and high jumps.
His tryst with fame came in 2006, when he slotted home a 2,000m steeplechase gold and 5,000m and 800m silvers at Asian Masters Athletics Championship in Bangalore. He followed it up with gold medals in 400m and 800m at Masters National Athletics Championship in Jaipur, in 2007.
Tiu clocked 4.57 seconds to claim gold at the 1,500m race and 1.27 seconds to clinch silver in the 400m run at 26th Sri Lanka Masters Athletics (Open) Championship held at Sugathadasa Stadium, Colombo, in July 2012.
What keeps Tiu going at this age? “Saada jivan aur khan paan par vishesh dhyan. Mein nashe se dur rahta hu aur bahut mehnat karta hu. Hari sabjiyon ka sevan karta hum aur daal pita hu. Mar-Bhaat bhi rojana khata hu. Inhi ke chalte abhi tak tika hua hun (I lead a simple life and am careful about my diet. I don't have any addictions and eat green vegetables and pulses. I also take starchy rice on daily basis. These things keep me going),” Tiu, who trains budding athletes and archers, said.
Some of his wards have made it to Tata Athletics Academy and Sports Authority of India (Ranchi). But he regretted not yet producing a world-class athlete. “Koshish to kar rahan hoon Dekhte hain aagey kya hota hai (Trying my best. Let’s see what happens in future),” he said.
Tiu was employed with Tata Steel and posted at Noamundi in West Singhbhum. He retired in 2001. But there’s no retirement from running.