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Sprint Puts South African Man in Masters’ World Record Book

July 23, 2004
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A Jewish centenarian has set a world record for his age group in the 100-meter sprint, even though his best time wasn’t accepted because of a clock malfunction. Philip Rabinowitz, 100, completed the distance in 30.86 seconds on July 10.

A July 4 race in which he ran the distance in 28.8 seconds was not recognized because the electronic timer failed on that occasion.

Rabinowitz, who is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest competitive walker, called his races “wonderful.”

“I feel halfway to heaven already — only halfway, not the whole way,” the Cape Town resident joked. “I’m not tired at all. I feel 100 percent still. Make that 99 percent!”

Rabinowitz, who started walking competitively at age 90, still puts in a full day’s work as the accountant at the family pet food manufacturing business in Cape Town’s Diep River area, and thinks nothing of bringing work home with him.

Rabinowitz’s daught! er, Joyce Kruger, said she told her father to go to sleep for the afternoon after the race.

“An hour later he got up and he went and did the books — he gets quite bored over weekends, especially when it’s raining,” she said.

A week before the race, Rabinowitz visited professor Tim Noakes of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa for a check-up.

Noakes “was quite amazed at his fitness,” Kruger said.

Rabinowitz’s training regimen includes a daily walk of up to five miles, and a six-mile walk on Saturday afternoon with the Spartan Harriers Athletics Club.

Once a month on Shabbat morning, he will walk the eight miles from his daughter’s home to synagogue to attend services.

The veteran broadcaster Harold Berman, who commentated during the July 4 race, said it was “a fantastic experience and an honor to watch a man of that age competing in sports events. I’ve seen some great races over the years, but this was something special.”

Hannes Wahl, Ra! binowitz’s 77-year-old coach, was very proud of his charge, though he did have one reservation.

“My biggest worry now is that he’s going to set a record that I’m not going to be able to beat when I get to his age,” Wahl said.

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