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At 67, Arun Singh is making his mark in athletics, competing alongside other international seniors in the World Masters Athletics Championships
Tensions were high as the 65-69years Long Hurdles race was about to begin in the WA Athletics Stadium, Perth. The new state-of-the-art athletics facilities recently hosted the 26th World Masters Athletics Championships from 26 October to 6 November.
Bearing witness to 4000 veteran athletes and their friends and families from over 40 countries, the stadium erupted as the athletes crossed the finishing line. Turning this challenging event into a lifetime achievement and adventure sport has been a hobby for 67-year-old Arun Singh from India.
Coming 7th in 300 Metres Hurdles and 4th in 100 Metres Hurdles, Arun Singh is not ready to call it quits; he has a personal goal of securing a gold medal in the events. Aimed at promoting active, healthy athletics competition through a network of international and national athletes, the World Masters Athletics Championships encourages and promotes general fitness, training and competition.
When asked him how he manages to keep fit at such an age, Arun spoke about participants of the 95-99 age category who rigorously trained and smashed the show with their inspiring spirits. “They motivate me the most,” Arun said. “Age is just a number.”
Despite the scorching heat, the atmosphere of the competition, as well as the prospect of meeting up with old friends, made the event remarkable.
At an age when people begin to physically deteriorate and become content with whatever retired life has in store, Arun Singh is highly ambitious and living at his healthy best now, indulging in his new career.
About a decade ago, he started running as a necessity to survive a ‘win or lose’ battle for his own life. The senior citizen from Kolkata had been an erstwhile smoker and was forced to quit this habit and take early retirement from his job because of a health scare.
What makes his story extraordinarily special is the effort he made, relentlessly attempting and giving up his cigarette addiction altogether.
“After retirement, I became very sick and no medication helped. I was told to give up smoking by my doctors and well-wishers. I then became a fitness freak, walked every morning, eating a balanced, nutritious diet with the sole intention of reliving my college athletic days.” He did what he aimed for and it didn’t take too long to prove that ‘winners don’t quit.’
It was then that he took to running, changing his lifestyle completely and is now a champion track and field athlete in the seniors’ category.
Though Arun had a passion for track and field events in his school and college days, his athletic career started only when he was 53 years old after he competed in the HSBC 10km run.
Arun recently won two gold and a bronze medal at the 19th Asia Masters Athletic Championships meet held in Singapore in May. The Asia Masters Athletics Championships are the biannual championship of Asia Masters Athletics, one of six continental-based regional affiliates of World Masters Athletics.
In 2012, Arun took part in the Asia Masters’ Athletic Meet in Taiwan and secured fourth place in both the 100m and 300m hurdles in 60+ category. In the same year, his right leg fibula bone was fractured and the leg was in plaster for 42 days.
“Still, I recovered from that quickly and won a silver medal at the 34th National Master Athletic meet held in June 2013 in Bangalore,” Arun said.
Based on his performance, he was selected for the 2013 World Masters’ Athletic Championship held at Porto Alegre, Brazil and the 18th Asia Masters Athletic Championships held in Japan in September, 2014.
Arun was later selected to represent India at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Perth. He estimates he has participated in about 20 marathons and 15 hurdles events, all after turning 50.
Looking up at the sunny Perth skies, breathing in a deep air of relief and bathed in his sweet sweat of success, Arun Singh may not have won his gold yet, but he has definitely won hearts.
Ultimately, as the founder of Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin said, “The most important thing in games is not the winning but the taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.” Arun Singh is a true testimony to that.