Posted December 07, 2013

Russian man becomes oldest Olympic relay torchbearer

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(Yuri Kadobnov/Getty Images)

Alexander Kaptarenko, 101, helped carry the Olympic torch, which is en route to Sochi. (Yuri Kadobnov/Getty Images)

Alexander Kaptarenko, a 101-year-old table tennis player, became the oldest Olympic relay torchbearer on Saturday.

Kaptarenko, who was born in St. Petersburg in 1912, carried the flame through the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, and covered the 200-meter run without issue. He reportedly practiced for the run using a frozen salmon in place of the torch.

“Nobody gave me a torch [to train with], they didn’t even promise one, and you need to train. But how do you train?” he said. “This guy, Ruslan, gave me four small dumbbells, half a kilo each, but they’re hard to hold, while a fish, big and all, can be held by its tail, thank God.”

Kaptarenko participated in several international tennis tournaments and continued the sport into old age. His last appearance was at the 2012 European veterans championships in Sweden, when he was 100.

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Here’s how Kaptarenko stays fit…

“Three times a week in the morning I go to the Metallurg gym and play table tennis. An hour and a half is enough for me. I sleep about 8 hours a day. I go to bed at 12, and wake up at 6 in the morning. After lunch, I try to sleep for another 1.5-2 hours. For breakfast, I have freshly ground organic coffee with sugar and chicory, and a cheese smoked sausage sandwich. I don’t do vegetarianism. For lunch, I have soup and salad, and like sauerkraut. I have dinner at about 7 p.m. I drink tea with milk. Before going to bed, I sometimes eat an apple or a banana. I don’t smoke. I began to do that in the army, and even then it was not for long. In my youth, my weight was 64kg, and now it is 68kg. But I was brawny then, and was called “ox.”

The previous record for the oldest torchbearer was Dinah Gould, who was 100 when she carried the flame through a London suburb in May 2012.

The torch will make an unofficial visit to the Naval Academy on Wednesday while the official relay continues in Russia.

The opening ceremony of the Sochi Games will be on February 7.

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