A wry view of life for the world-weary

Old Codgers Of The Week


I am not one for taking exercise or, indeed, for encouraging people to get hot and sweaty through physical exertion but even I had to doff my imaginary titfer when I heard this week of the derring-do of Mieko Nagaoka, a 100 year old woman from western Japan.

Competing in the improbably optimistic and doubtlessly specially created 1,500 metre freestyle category for swimmers aged between 100 and 104, she completed the course in Ehime in a creditable 1 hour and 16 minutes. Ngaio took up swimming in her youth – when she was 80.

And if those of us who are getting longer in the tooth want any more inspiration, then we could do no better than follow the example of Hidekichi Miyazaki aka the Golden Bolt. This 103 year old sprinter holds the world record for the 100 metre dash in the 100 to 104 age category – a respectable 29.83 seconds.

There were around 59,000 centenarians living in Japan at the last count and it is good to know that those at the younger end of the spectrum are not just hanging around waiting to die. In any event, they may have a long time to wait.

A couple of weeks ago it was announced that the then world’s oldest documented person, Misao Okawa, had shuffled off this mortal coil at the grand old age of 117. The successor to her mantle, Gertrude Weaver, alas enjoyed her crown for just six days, her death at the age of 116 being announced this week.

Still, both were mere spring chickens in comparison with Jeanne Calment who died in France in 1997 at the grand old age of 122 years and 164 days.

I was right – 60 is the new middle age!


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