Age is only a number — Man Kaur is living proof of that.
The 102-year-old Indian woman routinely competes in the World Masters Athletic Championships, and she almost always medals. It helps that she's often the only competitor in her age bracket.
Still, her dedication to staying fit, competing in events around the world, should inspire all of us to get off our rears and get moving.
A gold medal great-grandmother
Here's more motivation. Kaur is also proof that it's never too late to get on the fitness bandwagon. She wasn't always a runner. Indeed, according to NPR, she didn't start running until 2009 after her son, the now 80-year-old Gurdev Singh, suggested she take up track and field to pass the time.
Singh has been competing in track events since his college days, and continues to participate, racking up a more than 80 medals since 1992. He brought her to the track with him to show her what it was all about.
"She was very well, with no health problems, and she moved fast," Singh told NPR. "So I took her to the university track with me and asked her to run 400 meters. She did it, slowly, and I thought 'Yes, She can do it.'"
And Kaur wanted to keep doing it. She began to improve her running time, and after two years, Singh registered her for the same international events he was participating in, including the World Masters Games, an athletic competition held every four years for those over the age of 35. Kaur is often the oldest woman competing at the games. She has won more than 30 medals since she started competing.
At the 2017 World Masters Games in Auckland, Kaur won the gold for the 100-meter and 200-meter races. She also tried her hand at two other sports, shot put and javelin, which she broke a record for by hurling a javelin 16 feet. She took the gold in both events.
Her 100-meter run time in Auckland was 74 seconds, but Singh told NPR she has trimmed it to 70 since then. (For the sake of comparison, the world record for the women’s 100 meter is 10.62 seconds, set by Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 — but she was in her 20s at the time.)
Living healthy and happy
So what's Kaur's secret? Dedication, training from her son and a very strict diet.
She hits the track every day for about an hour. Three days are devoted to shot put and javelin while the rest of the week is spent on the track. Sprint and run days are alternated. On sprint days, Kaur runs for 30, 40 and 50 meters, with 100- and 200-meter runs on the alternating day.
"And if the weather is inclement, I go to the gym and lift weights," she said to NPR.
In the mornings, Kaur consumes kefir, soy milk and fresh juices. An early lunch consists of lentils, vegetables and flat bread. At 4 p.m., she has a snack of wheat grass juice, nuts and seeds. Dinner is more lentils and vegetables with another glass of soy milk.
"We eat good homemade food — no fried food. No restaurant eating, every day wheat grass, nuts and seeds," Singh told CNN.
And it seems to be working. Kaur, who has severe osteoporosis and a curved spine, is otherwise perfectly healthy.
Kaur doesn't have proof of her age, but NPR reports that she was 20 when she received Singh's birth certificate. She has three children, nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
"I will run as long as Guru's (God's) grace is with me. Although I am in such a state of health and I have improved my performance in these games, I will definitely perform better if there is some medical help," Kaur told CNN.