Recent posts mentioned paraglidingPeggy McAlpine (104) and marathoner Fauja Singh (101). Our centenarian coverage inadvertently omitted recognition of the 100th birthday of “Pocket Hercules” Manohar Aich, the 4’11” body builder who was India’s first Mr. Universe.
Aich no longer lifts weights, since he had a minor stroke last year. (Which, yes, suggests he was lifting at age 99.) But he still goes to the gym to help others, so we feel comfortable putting him in the same group as these other ageless athletes. And why do we care about these very, very old people? Because they inspire us. But mostly because we think they might hold a secret to how we, young and fearful boomers, might prolong our vitality.
Perhaps you were hoping for a dietary secret? If so, sorry. A piece in the Hindustan Times compares the diets of Aich and Singh and finds not much similarity. Singh swears by alsi di pinni, which is flax seed (we think). Aich is a proponent of panta bhateer (“rice cooked the day earlier and left to ferment by adding water”). Singh avoids rice and prefers “chapatti or a slice of brown bread dipped in curd or milk, the latter being easier to eat, given his brittle teeth.” (Earlier reports also cited his love of ginger curry.) Aich drinks coffee; Fauja drinks tea; Fauja treats himself to milk shakes; Aich prefers juice.
They did share one not very exotic comestible: lentils.
We suspect that diet might be less important than attitude. “I never allow any sort of tension to grip me,” Aich explained. (This from a guy who started weight-lifting in prison.) “I had to struggle to earn money since my young days, but whatever the situation, I remained happy.”
In other centenarian athlete news: Fauja Singh has been nominated as one of the torch bearers for the 2012 Olympic torch relay, which will be carried across the U.K. between May 19 and July 27.
Photo of Manohar Aich (1952) via Wikimedia Commons.