KYOTO (Japan) • A fleet-footed Japanese centenarian raced into the Guinness World Records reference book yesterday and declared himself a "medical marvel" as he continues to stalk sprint king Usain Bolt.
Mr Hidekichi Miyazaki, dubbed "Golden Bolt" after the fastest man on the planet, clocked 42.22sec in Kyoto to set a 100m world record in the over-105 age category - one for which no mark previously existed - a day after reaching the milestone age.
"I'm not happy with the time," the pint-sized Mr Miyazaki, 105, said in an interview after recovering his wind. "I started shedding tears during the race because I was going so slowly. Perhaps I'm getting old!"
Indeed, so leisurely was his pace that Bolt could have run his world record of 9.58sec four times, or practically complete a 400m race - a fact not lost on Mr Miyazaki.
"I'm still a beginner, you know," he said, grinning from ear to ear. "I'll have to train harder. Training was going splendidly, so I had set myself a target of 35sec. I can still go faster."
I'm not happy with the time... I started shedding tears during the race because I was going so slowly. Perhaps I'm getting old!
MR HIDEKICHI MIYAZAKI, in an interview after setting the record
"I will say this: I'm proud of my health," added Mr Miyazaki, the poster boy for Japan's turbo-charged geriatrics in a country with one of the world's highest life expectancies. "The doctors gave me a medical examination a couple of days ago and I'm fit as a fiddle."
"My brain might not be the sharpest, but physically I'm tip top. I've never had any health problems. The doctors are amazed by me. I can definitely keep on running for another two or three years," he added.
Dressed in his trademark red, tight shorts hiked alarmingly high, Mr Miyazaki got off to a wobbly start before finding a gentle rhythm and trotting across the finish line to loud cheers, greeted by his great-grandchildren carrying bouquets.
Cheekily, he celebrated by striking Bolt's famous "lightning" pose before being presented with a certificate from Guinness officials.
The twinkle-toed Mr Miyazaki, who holds the 100m world record for centenarians at 29.83sec, insisted there was still time for a dream race against the giant Jamaican.
"I would still love to compete against him," said Mr Miyazaki, who loses valuable seconds because he cannot hear the starter's gun go off.
"Two or three years ago, Bolt came to Japan and said he wanted to meet me. There was a call about it but I was out and he left without meeting me. I felt deeply sorry."
Mr Miyazaki, who was born in 1910 - the year Japan annexed Korea and when the Titanic was still being built - took up running only in his early 90s and prepares for races by taking a sneaky catnap.
He stands at just 1.53m tall and weighs in at 42kg.
He trains religiously by popping a kilogram weight into a rucksack and going for daily walks around his local park in Kyoto, where he now lives.
"It's all about willpower," Mr Miyazaki said of his need for speed. "You have to keep going."