103-year-old challenges world's fastest man

Updated: 2014-08-29 09:28

By Agence France-Presse in Kyoto, Japan(China Daily)

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103-year-old challenges world's fastest man

103-year-old Japanese sprinter Hidekichi Miyazaki (2nd left) runs during men's 100m dash at a Japan Masters Athletics competition in Kyoto on Aug 3. Miyazaki, who holds the 100 metres world record for centenarians at 29.83 seconds and is dubbed 'Golden Bolt' after the Jamaican flyer, plans to wait another five years for his dream race. Toru Yamanaka / AFP

Late bloomer

Miyazaki, who hails from tea-growing Shizuoka prefecture, about 200 km southwest of Tokyo, was a late bloomer, taking up running only at the age of 92 after watching an elderly people's sports day broadcast on television.

Having become the planet's fastest centenarian in 2010, he now has his sights on another milestone in the unlikely 105-109 age group category.

"That's what I'm training for," said Miyazaki, who loses valuable seconds at the start of races because he can't hear the gun go off.

"It's my birthday next month, and that's my next goal."

He need only to cross the finish line to set the new world record as no official mark exists in that age class.

As Miyazaki left the track, 85-year-old Mitsue Tsuji tossed a shot put 4.73 meters - this after she had set a mark of 2.07 meters in the long jump. Not content, she set a meet record of 13.85 in the women's 60m sprint.

"I started doing athletics when I was 81," she said. "My husband had passed away, and I thought there was no point moping around at home alone."

Tsuji will join Miyazaki at next month's Asia Masters championships in northeast Japan.

"I had a bit of a fall last year and was going to skip it," said Tsuji, who credits power naps for her age-defying stamina.

"But my son told me I might not live much longer, so I'll do as I'm told. I'll keep going as long as I'm around."

As the pair tore it up with the other high-fiving grannies and granddads in Kyoto, 78-year-old endurance runner Yoko Nakano pounded the streets in Tokyo, preparing for her latest world record tilt.

Nakano ran her first full marathon at 70 "for fun" while vacationing in Honolulu - clocking 4 hours, 4 minutes, 44 seconds - and now holds the world record for 75-to-79-year-olds, as well as those for the 3,000 and 5,000 meters.

"We were on vacation, so I thought we might as well run," she smiled, perched on a tree stump in a canary yellow T-shirt and polka dot scarf. Her world marathon mark now stands at 3:53.42.

The bespectacled Nakano, whose has also run marathons in New York and Boston, bounced back from stomach surgery last year, building her post-op fitness by walking up and down the hospital corridors.

"I walked about 7 kilometers a day inside the hospital," she said. "I guess I'm too stubborn to quit."

Miyazaki, who is also handy with a shot put, gave an insight into his need for speed.

"I make sure not to use my brain," he said. "I always keep it empty and uncluttered. That's important."