102-Year-Old Sawang Janpram, the oldest sprinter in Thailand, has set a new record for his age group by finishing a 100-meter dash in 27.08 seconds.
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 100-metre dash, javelin, and discus events.
Last weekend at the championship’s 26th iteration held in the southwestern Samut Songkhram province, he won all of 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.
However, the centenarian ramped this up ahead of the games, training twice a day for a week at a local stadium with his daughter.
In April 2018 Sawang Janpram cruised to victory in the 100-metre sprint, came first in the discus and set a record in the javelin — the undisputed star of Thailand’s first national Elderly Games held this week.
“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 100-metre 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.
Viwat Vigrantanoros, president of Asia Masters Athletics said that as Thailand’s society ages, the number of participants in the senior category has grown.
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.
Thailand’s population is getting older, and fast, posing risks to the middle-income country’s social and medical services as well as its economic productivity.
By 2031, the percentage of the population over 60 is expected to nearly double to 28 per cent, according to the National Economic and Social Development Board.
“Now Thailand is a fully-fledged ageing society it’s the right time and place to hold these activities,” Nattavuth Ruengves, deputy governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand, told AFP on the sidelines of the competition.