Nearing his 104th birthday, a twinkle-toed Japanese sprinter has thrown down the challenge to the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt, telling him: “Let’s rumble!”
Hidekichi Miyazaki, holds the 100 metres world record for centenarians at 29.83 seconds and is nicknamed ‘Golden Bolt’ after the Jamaican flyer. He plans to wait another five years for his dream race and was happy to reveal his secret weapon: his daughter’s tangerine jam.
Born in 1910, the year Japan annexed Korea and when the Titanic was still under construction, the pint-sized Miyazaki offered some dietary tips to Bolt, whose world record is 9.58 seconds.
“My body is small so I take care of what I eat,” said Miyazaki, who stands just 1.53 metres (five feet) tall and weighs in at 42 kilograms (92 pounds).
“When I eat, I chew each mouthful 30 times before swallowing,” he added, loosening his Usain Bolt running shoes. “That makes my tummy happy and helps my running. And I eat my tangerine jam every day. I’m keeping the dream alive. I try to stay in top shape and stay disciplined and healthy. That’s important for everyone, even Usain Bolt.”
In a country with one of the world’s highest life expectancies, Miyazaki is the poster boy for Japan’s turbo-charged geriatrics. Some 6,000 pensioners are registered at the Masters Federation which hosts more than 40 track and field meetings every year across the nation.
Miyazaki, was a late bloomer, only taking up running at the age of 92 after watching an old people’s sports day broadcast on television. Having become the planet’s fastest centenarian in 2010, he now has his sights on another milestone; the 105-109 age group category. He need only cross the finish line to set the new world record as no official mark exists in that age class.
“That’s what I’m training for,” said Miyazaki, who loses valuable seconds at the start of races because he can’t hear the gun go off. “It’s my birthday next month and that’s my next goal.”
During a race, Miyazaki was in second place, leaving the cup to Yoshio Kita, a relative young one at age 82. “Before I ran I curled up for a little nap — big mistake! I felt stiff. I’m still young so it’s a learning process,” joked Miyazaki. “I can still run for another five years.”