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A continuing quest to defy all odds

Italian Giuseppe Ottaviani competes in the long jump.
Italian Giuseppe Ottaviani competes in the long jump. / German Pozo
  • After two weeks of record-breaking sport, the World Masters Championships concludes this Sunday

  • Centenarians Man Kaur and Giuseppe Ottaviani both broke world records in their disciplines at the championships taking place in Malaga this week

Just a few days remain of the World Masters Athletics Championships, currently taking place in Malaga at various venues across the city and Torremolinos, where more than 8,000 athletes, aged 35 to 102, have been turning back the clock and defying the years.

The event, which started last Tuesday, is set to come to a climax on Sunday. That said, we have already witnessed a lot of great moments including when Indian, Man Kaur, 102, became the oldest athlete in the competition, breaking world records and, on Monday, running 200 metres in 74 seconds and surpassing the five-metre mark in the javelin throw.

Last week's absence from the 100-metre run fuelled speculation that she wouldn't be able to compete in the championship at all. However, she didn't let her fans down and this week brought home a gold medal.

Man Kaur, during her athletic career, has won almost 20 gold medals and competed all across the globe in countries such as New Zealand, Singapore, Canada and Malaysia.

"A good glass of wine"

Kaur is not the only 102-year-old champion this year; Italian Giuseppe Ottaviani, a few months younger than Kaur, won a gold medal on Tuesday for jumping 0.83 meters in the long jump competition, achieving the world record. Ottaviani, who fought during the Second World War, has competed in more than 11 different sports throughout the years, however, in this year's competition he's decided to focus on the high jumps. Ottaviano admitted: "I don't follow any diet", which he believes could be the secret behind his good health. However, he admitted on indulging in "a good glass of wine" once in a while.

"The joy of competing"

This is the second time that Spain has hosted these championships, the biggest for athletes over the age of 35 - whether former athletes (and even Olympians) who want to keep the fire burning, or those who came to sport in later life.

The latter was the case for Elena Pagu, 92, who made her native Romania proud when she won in the 100 metres last week. She started running at the age of 56: "I was unemployed at the time and I felt like I didn't have anything in my life. I don't compete for the prizes nor the money, just the joy of competing."

The same could be said for British athlete Dalbir Singh Deol, 92, who came to the competition accompanied by his son. Dalbir grew up in India where he joined the air force before moving to London and working for an insurance company in 1958 when he was 32. He became interested in the championship when he saw on TV that there were people his age doing competitions and he thought he could do it better.

"I run to keep myself in shape," he says. "A few years ago I had a belly and now I've been able to lose weight."

Both he and Man Kaur are Sikhs, though Dalbir removes his turban for competitions. This goes to show that not only does the World Masters Athletics Championships celebrate a broad range of ages, but also cultures with Jamaica, Morocco, India, France, Kenya, Mauritius, Norway, Germany, the USA, China and Australia just some of the 101 nations represented in this year's edition.

Action can still be seen at the Ciudad de Málaga, Carranque, Torremolinos and the University of Malaga's athletics stadiums - all hosting events until Sunday.