We love inspirational tales. So we are delighted to learn that not only is the world’s oldest known active competitive athlete a 103-year old sprinter — but also that he would like to go head to head with world 100-meters record holder Usain Bolt.
Now, Miyazaki Hidekichi is no slouch on the track, even at 103. He is the reigning world 100-meters record holder for his age group, 100+, at 29.83 seconds, and is known in his native Japan as the Golden Bolt.
The French newsagency, AFP, reports that he issued the challenge to the Jamaican after competing in a recent Japanese Masters meet in Kyoto. Hidekichi clocked 38.35 seconds in his event, less than 29 seconds slower than Bolt's world record of 9.58 seconds. Adjusting for the 75-year age gap that is almost a photo finish in our book.
Hidekichi blamed the heat for what he said was a "five-out-of-ten" performance for him, and a pre-race nap leaving him a little stiff. He also said he could run faster but isn’t the quickest off his mark because he has difficulty hearing the starter’s pistol.
That is not his only disadvantage against Bolt; at 5-feet tall, Hidekichi is a foot and a half shorter than the Jamaican, and, at 92 pounds, weighs less than half as much, though that hasn't stopped Hidekichi competing in the shot put, too.
Hidekichi was born in 1910. William Howard Taft was U.S. president then and Meiji still emperor of Japan. Hidekichi didn’t take up competitive running until he was in his early 90s after watching a TV program about masters athletes.
If the Golden Bolt doesn’t get to race his fastest-man-on-Earth namesake, then the fastest centurian on Earth's next goal is a crack at the world 100-meters record in the 105-109 age group — a record that is yet to be set. No one is known to have raced the distance at that age.
"That's what I'm training for," says the sprinter who will turn 104 within the month. "I'm keeping the dream alive. I try to stay in top shape and stay disciplined and healthy" — fitness advice for the ages.