SAMUT SONGKHRAM, Thailand: It takes Thai athlete Sawang Janpram 27.08s to run 100m. That’s not bad, given he is 102 years old.
Sawang is known for being the oldest sprinter in the Southeast Asian country and has participated four times in the annual Thailand Master Athletes Championships, particularly in the 100m dash, javelin, and discus events.
Last weekend at the championship’s 26th iteration held in the southwestern Samut Songkhram province, he won all the gold medals in the 100-105 years category as he has outlived all rivals in that age range.
“Getting into sports made me strong and well. As well as this, exercising helps improve your appetite so you eat well too,” Sawang says when asked about the secret to his longevity.
Sawang’s everyday routine includes daily walks with his 70-year-old daughter, Siripan, and simple house chores like sweeping up fallen leaves in their garden.
But the centenarian ramped this up ahead of the games, training twice a day for a week at a local stadium with his daughter.
“My father always has positive thoughts … so he is in a great mental health condition. In terms of physical health, he has gotten much stronger,” Siripan says.
The training paid off. Sawang’s time for the 100m sprint this year was a personal best and new Thai record for his age group.
Usain Bolt, who holds the only current world record, ran it in 9.58 seconds in 2009.
As Thailand’s society ages, the number of participants in the seniors category has grown, says Viwat Vigrantanoros, president of Asia Masters Athletics.
When the Thailand Master Athletes Championships started in 1996, there were only about 300 participants. Today, there are over 2,000, their ages ranging from 35 to 102 years.
“As you can see, everybody who’s here to compete has all forgotten about their ages. Once they forget about their ages, they are happy,” Viwat said.