Sikh athlete sets new records in London

Fauja Singh took part in local village sports in Punjab before the Second World War.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:51 IST
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Fauja Singh took part in local village sports in Punjab before the Second World War. He moved to London when his wife died, and started to run again after a break of 53 years. Now at 94, he can't stop breaking world records. "He is an inspiration because he has set five UK records. He has achieved more in one day than an athlete normally does in a lifetime," said Bridget Cushen, Secretary, British Masters Athletic Federation. Creating history Fauja created history at a community marathon event in London. In the senior category, he not only set a new 200m title, but halved it from 76.8 seconds to a mere 49.28 seconds. He has also set the UK record for the 400 meters, 800m, 1 mile, and 3000m. If that wasn't enough, he attempted all the records in under 94 minutes. And even that's not all he's achieved in a hurry. Towering figure Fauja has spent only 10 years in the UK, but today he is a towering figure in British society. He is also the face of Adidas alongside the likes of David Beckham in the 'Impossible is nothing' campaign. "I have no secret to my success. Just three things--I look after my health, train and stay happy," he said. Fauja has many moments to be proud of, but being chosen as the Olympic torchbearer through London remains one of his most cherished. However, Sikhs in England warn that if Paris wins the 2012 Olympic bid, stories like Fauja's may never be told. Religious bans "France has decided to enforce their form of secularism which denies the individual their religious identity. They are denying Sikhs the turban, the Muslims their hijab and other people of faith their symbols," said Harmander Singh, Fauja's trainer. "To us the turban is very important, and Fauja Singh wears a turban. He's set world records and other things wearing a turban. Imagine what will happen if the IOC decides to give Paris the Olympic bid," he said. "Will people like Fauja be able to participate? We think it's an unnecessary pressure on people of faith," he added. People are now hoping that the 'Turban records', named in protest against France's ban on religious headgear, will go that extra mile to tip the Olympic bid in London's favour.