SBS’s Manpreet talks to ”˜Turbaned Tornado’ ”“ Worlds’ oldest marathon man

Fauja Singh

SBS’s Punjabi program Executive Producer Manpreet Singh recently spoke to Fauja Singh ”“ a centenarian and the world’s oldest marathon runner.

Known as the ”˜Turbaned Tornado’ Fauja is a British Sikh of Indian descent, born on April 1, 1911.   An incredible athlete, age regardless, he holds the world record for a marathon in his age bracket; along with the UK records for the 200  m, 400  m, 800  m, mile and 3000  m for his age group, all set within a single 94 minute period!

Renowned for his joy of life, Manpreet said of speaking to Fauja:

It was a sheer delight to speak to Fauja. I couldn’t believe how coherent, active, childishly innocent, happy and vibrant he is.   He was an inspiration and I know that his interview will strike many chords with our listeners nationally and internationally.”

In 2004, Singh was featured in the Adidas’ ”˜Impossible is Nothing’ campaign, replacing sporting great David Beckham who featured in the previous year’s campaign.

Now in his 100th year, he is perhaps the oldest person ever to see his biography published.   Officially to be released on Thursday 7 July in the British House of Lords, the book Turbaned Tornado by author Khushwant Singh covers an incredible life ”“ including many ”˜Fauja-isms’ or Fauja-nomics, as Khushwant calls them.

Incredibly, Fauja ran his first ever marathon at the age of 89, in the year 2000 when he moved to England after the death of one of his sons, Kuldip, in India.   Fauja said: “When I left India for England, I didn’t intend to run in marathon races. I’m a simple uneducated man. I was working hard in India, just raising my six children. But sometimes, when you receive a major setback in life, God inspires you to do something more.”


Fauja ”“ meaning ”˜soldier’ in Punjabi – has shown not only grit and determination in his life, but also a great generosity of spirit; donating all the money he received from Adidas and others to charities, the principal among them being BLISS, a charity for premature children.


Described by his coach Harmander Singh as balanced, enthusiastic, determined, keen to improve and jovial, Fauja has a love and enthusiasm for life that have inspired many.


Fauja Singh said to Manpreet: “A person should always think ahead and have a dream. One should never lose heart. It’s a matter of attitude – some people can stop living even before they die while others live on even after their death”.


He continued:   “I’ve run 7 miles with the Dalai Lama. I ran in New York (soon after the 9/11 attacks) and everyone advised me not to run wearing a turban. Some people said I could be killed. But I refused to listen and ran wearing my turban.”


“People around the world love me. White people, black people, Indians, Pakistanis, everyone. See, you have called me from so far – Australia. I’m very happy.”


Fauja’s dream now is to have one final world record in his name.   He has already run 10 kilometres since he turned 100, and hopes to run a full marathon in 2012.


To hear the special documentary with Fauja Singh in Punjabi, and including quotes from author Khushwant Singh, and to view a photo gallery go to


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