Centenarian to compete in World Aquatics Masters C'ships, Latest Others News - The New Paper

Centenarian to compete in World Aquatics Masters C'ships

Silver-haired but still having what it takes, Iranian centenarian Taghi Askari will be the oldest competitor at 2024’s World Aquatics Masters Championships that will begin in February.

The Asian Games medallist will take to the pool once more in the diving event almost 60 years after his last national games.

“For me, I have had a love of diving since I was a teenager until today. I have always loved diving. Nothing has changed between 1951 and now, except my performance!” Mr Askari was quoted as saying in an article in worldaquatics.com.

The 100-year-old won a silver and a bronze in the first Asian Games in New Delhi in 1951.

He was 41 when he last competed at a national level and won gold then.

“I achieved a gold medal at the national level, and after that, I said goodbye to the sport, but at least with a gold medal,” he said in the article.

The international World Aquatics Masters Championships, to be held in Doha from Feb 23 to March 3, will host competitions in swimming, open water swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming.

The minimum age for competitors is 25, except in water polo that requires athletes to be at least 30 years old. 

Its first edition, then called FINA World Masters’ Championships, was held in 1986 in Tokyo.

In a video posted on Feb 10 on the FINA YouTube channel, Mr Askari recounted how his lifelong love affair with the sport began in a pool at his childhood home, where he learnt to swim and jump into the water.

He went on to train professionally and eventually entered the elite realms of the sport.

When asked in the video interview about the biggest challenge of his career, Mr Askari said that when he was younger, he did two somersaults from the 10m platform, and hit the water badly. When he opened his eyes, he was in the hospital.

“I couldn’t see for a few days, but after one week, it was national championship. I attended the national championship and got the gold,” he added.