119-year-old Indian runner on a new mission to educate youngsters

Written by: Sujata Sarkar
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Bengaluru, Nov 28: Although there is a dispute over his age, athlete Dharampal Singh Gujjar, hailing from Gudha village in Meerut, claims his present age is 119.

Regarding Dharampal Singh issue, secretary of Uttar Pradesh Masters Athletics association Mr. K Tiwari said: “He might be 100 years old, not 119. And this is the reason he is not acknowledged by the country’s Masters Athletics Association. We Still have respect for him as it is almost next to impossible to clock 46.74 seconds in 200 meters even if he is 100 years old.” 

Dharampal Singh Gujjar (centre track) (Image courtesy: Youtube)

The veteran athlete from Gudha hogged the limelight after he won the gold medal in the 800 meters category at the 28th Malaysian Masters Athletics Championship in 2015.

Dharampal, when contacted over the phone in his village said, “I am an illiterate person. I never went to school.

"Following a certificate issued by The District Magistrate of Meerut, I got my voter ID card and my Permanent Account Number (PAN) was also made. According to my voter ID card, I was born in 1897.”

Dharampal had a huge land in his village, nearly 60 bighas. And from his childhood days, he used to look after their family animals.

He calls himself an agriculturist. And recalling his early days Dharampal added: “Everyday I had to run a lot after the cows on my land. And one day I realized I could run even without doing duty. In that way, I became a runner.”

Dharampal has won at least 50 medals in the different Masters tournaments in India so far. But he has been able to compete only in one international tournament. That was last year in Malaysia.

The old man lamented: “Despite the fact that I received several invitations from all over the World to compete I was not able to participate as I did not have even the passage money.

"In spite of having received an invitation to take part in World Masters Championship in Perth this month, I had to cancel the tour due to lack of passage money.”

Dharampal is now busy in fulfilling his new mission. He has already started training the young lads in his village. 

Regarding his new mission, the veteran athlete said: “Some boys had joined gangsters. Some of the young boys became drug addicts.

"I have forced them to join my coaching camp and bring them back to normal life through running. And this will be my mission.”

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