Old and fit: Seniors who make their mark in sport and fitness

(From left to right) Johanna Quaas, 92; Robert Marchand, 105; Man Kaur, 101 and Ngai Hin Kwok, 67 are just some seniors who have kept an exceptional level of fitness for their age and remain active. PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN, NG SOR LUAN, REUTERS, AFP
(From left to right) Johanna Quaas, 92; Robert Marchand, 105; Man Kaur, 101 and Ngai Hin Kwok, 67 are just some seniors who have kept an exceptional level of fitness for their age and remain active. PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN, NG SOR LUAN, REUTERS, AFP

Defying her ripe old age of 92, the world's oldest active gymnast wowed audiences at a Marina Bay Sands ballroom on Sunday (April 30) during an eldercare convention.

Ms Johanna Quaas performed an agile routine on the parallel bars, with deft dives and vaults that belied her age.

She attributes her longevity to a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, on top of staying active by rekindling a childhood interest in gymnastics aged 57.

Here are 4 other seniors who have made their mark in sport and fitness:

1. Alive and kicking


Seasoned journeyman Kazuyoshi Miura is still a regular starting player for Yokohama FC despite being far older than his teammates. PHOTO: REUTERS

The oldest professional footballer and goalscorer in the world, Japanese footballer Kazuyoshi Miura cuts an improbable figure in Japanese second-tier club Yokohama FC's attack.

The 50-year-old eclipsed the mark set by England legend Stanley Matthews in March.

He even scored the winning goal during a league match against Thespa Kusatsu the same month with a predatory strike after a blunder by the opposing keeper.

Said Miura: "It's not so much about numbers anyway, it's more about how you play."

When asked about his secret, Miura quipped: "It is important to keep dreaming.

"So playing at the World Cup is still my dream."

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2. The cycle of life


Robert Marchand completed the unprecedented feat of cycling for over 22km at the age 105, after training for six months. He would later claim that he could cycle even faster had he realised he was running out of time. PHOTO: EPA

Aged 105, French cycling enthusiast Robert Marchand covered over 22km in one hour on a track near Paris in January.

The centenarian was a late bloomer who only started testing his endurance on the bicycle at the age of 68.

Incredibly, Marchand, who trained for six months prior to his latest feat, even claimed to journalists present that he could have cycled faster, had he known time was running out in the last 10 minutes.

When asked if he intended to continue endurance cycling, Marchand mused: "You are nine months in the making, but it takes you only 30 seconds to drop dead."

According to coach Gerard Mistler, the key to Marchand's achievements is a deeply-ingrained drive for excellence.

"Setting goals for himself is part of his personality," said Mr Mistler.

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3. The century 'sprint'


Aged 101, Man Kaur won the 100m sprint at the World Masters Games uncontested. She would later go on to secure the 200m crown too, bringing her medal tally to over 20 since she started competing in the Games. PHOTO: AFP

Man Kaur flew the Indian flag high when she won the 100m sprint uncontested at the World Masters Games held in Auckland last week.

The twist? Kaur is 101 years old.

Participation in the World Masters Games, a sports meet with events for the geriatric, is a family affair for her.

Her son, Gurdev Singh, 79, introduced her to the Masters fraternity.

But mother bestrides the Masters Games like a colossus, with a staggering medal haul of over 20.

She would later add the 200m sprint crown to her tally mere days after clinching the 100m title, joining a select club that includes sprint king Usain Bolt to have secured both the 100m and 200m titles in a single international athletics meet.

A vegetarian, her good health is said to stem from a strict diet that includes wheat grass juice and a daily glass of kefir, a fermented milk drink.

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4. Unchained by age


Mr Ngai Hin Kwok, 67, attempts to perform dips with a 17kg powerlifting chain around his neck. 
The fitness enthusiast is in the pink of health despite being a grandfather. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Mr Ngai Hin Kwok is capable of athletic feats many younger men would struggle to contemplate.

This includes numerous high-level calisthenics moves such as the human flag, where a person uses their upper-body strength to extend themselves horizontally from a vertical handhold, like a flag.

The 67-year-old is also part of Team Strong Silver, a team of similarly-fit elders that have performed their feats publicly in events such as the SEA Games.

But this fitness was not acquired overnight.

It is the result of decades of disciplined training and an active interest in sports and fitness since the age of 15, inspired by university students next to his childhood home in Fujian, China.

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