Learning > Inspiration

At 90, former Olympian is just getting warmed up

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Calvin Yang on 15 Apr 2018

The Straits Times

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Ajit Singh Gill has represented Singapore in hockey, cricket and golf.

 

Now aged 90, he is flying the country's flag in his latest passion - race walking.

 

The former Olympian, who was encouraged to take up the sport a few years ago, said it is "always an honour to represent the country in anything".

 

He has struck gold five times in regional race walking events, including winning the 5,000m race walk at the Asia Masters Athletics Championships on home soil in 2016.

 

"And I have only just begun," added Mr Gill, who represented Singapore in hockey as a fullback at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and later became a national cricketer.

 

"I found it interesting and, like all things in life, I decided to try and put 110 per cent effort into it."

 

His good health, he said, is the result of a disciplined lifestyle. The nonagenarian walks 5,000m on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and plays golf at the Singapore Island Country Club on other days of the week.

 

He eats more vegetables and less meat these days and also abstains from beer and soft drinks.

 

Mr Gill, who has five children, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, also constantly monitors his heart rate during training sessions, being careful not to go over 120 beats per minute as instructed by his daughter, who is a doctor.

 

While he has suffered many injuries over the years, including a recent shoulder problem, Mr Gill has not let such setbacks affect him.

 

"My father used to tell me, 'Never say die'," said the former mathematics and English teacher of 36 years.

 

"I have always tried to live my life with that same determination and grit."

 

In September, Mr Gill will be in Spain for the World Masters Athletics Championships. "I'm a born competitor, so I used to train hard to compete with others. Now I train hard to compete with myself," he said.

 

Mr Gill hopes more seniors will follow his example and pick up walking in a bid to stay healthy: "I would like to see all my fellow countrymen live longer and healthier lives."

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.