Hidekichi Miyazaki of Japan broke his own record as the world’s oldest competitive sprinter this week, one day after turning 105.
But he was disappointed at falling short of his own personal best. “I wanted to shave off a few more seconds, as I got 36 seconds while training,” Miyazaki, told the media after completing his heat with a time of 42.22 on Wednesday at the Kyoto Masters Athletics Autumn Competition. His personal record of 34.10, chalked up when he was 103, remains unbeaten for any one who is more than 100 years old, but he loses valuable time because he cannot hear the starter’s gun go off.
Born on September 22, 1910, the senior speedster shows no signs of slowing down. “The doctors gave me a medical examination a couple of days ago and I’m fit as a fiddle,” he says proudly.
Miyazaki is nicknamed the “Golden Bolt,” after Usain Bolt, who is considered the world’s fastest man. He has said his dream is to race the legendary Jamaican sprinter someday.
“Two or three years ago Bolt came to Japan and said he wanted to meet me. There was a call about it but I was out and he left without meeting me. I felt deeply sorry,” he said.
Miyazaki was already eight when World War One ended and 34 when Japan was defeated in World War II. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, he didn’t begin running until he was in his 90s and started then only because so many of the friends with whom he had played the Japanese board game “Go” had died.
He says that the secret to his success is exercising daily, eating in moderation and chewing food properly. Miyazaki stands just 1.53 metres (five feet) tall and weighs 42 kilograms (92 pounds). He trains rigorously by carrying a kilogram weight into a rucksack as he walks daily around his local park in Kyoto, where he lives.
Japan, which on Monday marked “Respect for the Aged Day, leads the world in the number of people over 65 years old. The number of Japanese over 80 topped 10 million for the first time, and more than 60,000 of those are over 100, according to a report issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs this week.