Updated: August 1, 2021 12:01:58 pm
Multiple World Masters Championship gold medallist and multiple Asian Masters Championship medallist athlete 105-year-old Man Kaur breathed her last at a Dera Bassi Hospital near Mohali on Saturday afternoon. The Punjab athlete, who was diagnosed with gall bladder and liver cancers earlier this year, was undergoing treatment at a Derabassi hospital. Kaur is survived by two sons and a daughter apart from nine grandchildren and more than 10 great grandchildren. Her son 83-year-old athlete Gurdev Singh confirmed Kaur’s death.
“Yes, she breathed her last about 1.00 pm today. She had been suffering from liver and gall bladder cancers and we had been seeking treatment at the Dera Bassi hospital for the last one month after getting treatment from an Indore hospital. She had shown signs of recovery and was in good health till yesterday,” Gurdev Singh told The Indian Express.
A native of Patiala and born on March 1, 1916, a young Kaur was one of the caretakers for the queens and children at the royal Patiala household of the then Maharaja Bhupinder Singh and later for the family of Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, father of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. While her husband Ranjeet Singh was one of the khansamas of the royal house, Kaur also took care of the children in the royal family.
Kaur and her husband shifted to Chandigarh in the 1960s and it was not until the age of 93 that she started athletics. It was at the insistence of her son Gurdev Singh that Kaur started running and won her first medal in Chandigarh Masters Athletics meet in 2007 before she won the gold in 100 m as well 200 m race in the National Masters Athletics meet in 2011.
The same year, Kaur would become the 100 m and 200 m champion in the World Masters Athletics Championships in the USA and was also adjudged the best athlete. But it was her feat of becoming the champion in the 100 m in the 100+ category in the World Masters Athletics Championships in Auckland in 2017, which got her into limelight.
Hon’ble Governor Shri Bandaru Dattatreya has expressed grief over the death of legendary centenarian sprinter Smt. Man Kaur.
She will ever be reverred for her grit & urge for excellence.
Hon. Governor conveys his condolences to the bereaved family. May her soul rest in peace! pic.twitter.com/YCQ5Rocetd
— HARYANA RAJ BHAVAN (@RajBhavanHry) July 31, 2021
Kaur clocked a timing of one minute and 14.58 seconds to become the oldest winner in the competition’s history and would also win gold medals in the 200 m, shotput and javelin throw events at Auckland. In the 200 m race, she clocked a timing of two minutes and 58 seconds while she made a 2.2 m throw in the shot put event to win the gold. In the discus throw, she made a throw of 5.12 m to win the gold medal. The same week, Kaur became the oldest person to skywalk at Auckland’s sky tower.
In 2018, Kaur won the title in the 200 m race and shot put event in the 100-104 year category in World Masters Championship in Spain before she won the four gold medals in the 60m, shot put, javelin throw and 200m race event in the next edition of the games in Poland in 2019. “I feel like reliving my life when I run and it is like going to work for me. My diet of fermented milk Kefir and rotis made from sprouted beans make me healthy even at this age. Jab tak zindagi hai daudhangi aur medals jeetungi,” Kaur had told The Indian Express in 2018.
Son Gurdev Singh would too always make sure that he was training along with Kaur every single day. “After she started running, there has been rarely a day when she has not trained. Sometimes, she would go to the Punjabi University athletics track even before me. Winning medals in various countries made her relive her youth,” Singh had said.
After competing in the Asian Masters Championships in 2019, Kaur had stopped competing at international events but had been training and was hopeful of competing in the last year’s World Masters Championship in Canada before it was cancelled due to the pandemic. In 2017, Kaur was nominated along with five other international athletes for the Laureus best Sporting Moment of Year 2018 competition. Last year in March, Kaur was also given the Nari Shakti Puraskar by President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi.
After the lockdown, Kaur had been training at Patiala with her son Gurdev Singh before she came to Chandigarh. In March this year, Kaur had celebrated her 105th birthday at her daughter Amrit Kaur’s home in Sector 40, Chandigarh.
“While I used to prepare for marathons and other walk events and my schedule consisted of visiting multiple cities before the lockdown, I missed all such competitions and meeting young athletes and fans during lockdown. Inspiring young children and athletes also works as a tonic for me and missing all these things made me feel like a fatigued person. So I would spend more time reciting Sukhmani Sahib Path and meditate listening to religious scriptures, which helped us pass the months in lockdown,” Kaur has said in March this year.
The cremation will take place in Chandigarh at Sector 25 cremation ground on Sunday morning. CM Amarinder condoled the sad demise of Kaur. “I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of mata Man Kaur, who took up athletics at the age of 93 winning laurels for the country and thus becoming a role model for all,” said Singh in a statement.
Punjab Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Rana Gurmit Sodhi too offered his condolences.