101-year-old athlete denied Chinese visa

Indian runner Man Kaur, 101, celebrates after competing in the 100m sprint in the 100+ age category at the World Masters Games in Auckland
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Indian runner Man Kaur, 101, celebrates after competing in the 100m sprint in the 100+ age category at the World Masters Games in Auckland

CHANDIGARH: Centenarian athlete Man Kaur, who was to take part in the ongoing Asian Masters Athletics Championships in China, has been denied visa on the grounds that she did not have a personal invitation from the organizers, her son Gurdev Singh said here.

The 101-year-old Chandigarh-based sprinter, who had won the 100-metre race at the World Masters Games in Auckland earlier this year, and her 79-year-old son were to participate in the ongoing 20th Asia Masters Athletics Championships in Rugao in China.

“The Chinese embassy in Delhi said both of us don’t have a personal invite. We had attached a letter from the Masters Athletics Federation of India with our visa applications. But the visa was denied and we were told that personal invite was required,” Singh told PTI over phone.

He said the event started on September 24.
Singh said Kaur was looking forward to winning medals as she was to compete in several categories – 100-metre and 200-metre races, the shot-put and the javelin.

“I feel a little bit disappointed that the visa was not granted as I could have won some medals.

I had been training hard for the event over the last few weeks and visa being denied came as a surprise as I and my son have been travelling a lot, but never faced this situation earlier,” Kaur told PTI.

Singh, who was to take part in the long jump and 100- meter and 200-metre races, said that in the letter from the Masters Athletics Federation of India, “both our names were separately mentioned for taking part in various events in China”.

“We were scheduled to travel to the US and Canada after the games in China. We were flying out from China on September 28. We also showed our ticket bookings from Shanghai to Los Angeles.

“But our visas were rejected and the reason they gave was that we did not have a personal invite. We stated that the federation has been given the list of participants and they have mentioned our names. We had separately applied for visa,” Singh further said.

He also said, “The Chinese embassy could have also issued us visitor/tourist visa for four days. We had applied for the visas four days before the games were to start, which is their requirement as per their rules.”

“Would it not have been an inspiration for Chinese people to see a 101-year old woman running and taking part in sports competitions?” he asked.

“We had purchased flight tickets and made hotel bookings in China at our own expenses. But afterwards, we cancelled our tickets and also had to re-schedule our tickets to the US and Canada,” Singh said.

In Canada, she is being bestowed upon a lifetime achievement award in October, Singh said.

Kaur has also been nominated for the prestigious ‘Laureus World Best Sporting Moment of the Year 2017’ Award.

Kaur won her first medal in 2007 at the Chandigarh Masters Athletics meet.

She took up athletics at the ripe age of 93 years “just for the heck of it” after seeing her son run a race in Patiala.

By winning the medal in Auckland, New Zealand, in April, Kaur added the 17th gold medal in her kitty. She had clocked one minute and 14 seconds as a small crowd cheered her on.

In the run-up to the China meet, Kaur left no stone unturned in her preparation doing five sprints of 50-metre each, one of 100m and one of 200m every alternate day.

“I will continue to run and take part in competitions as long as I can. It gives me a lot of happiness when I run. I believe that age is no bar to chase and realize your dreams,” said Kaur, who is also called as ‘Miracle Mom from Chandigarh’.-PTI

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