Centenarian Fauja Singh’s record-setting completion of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon won’t be record-setting, after all. Guinness World Records will not recognize Fauja Singh’s achievement because he cannot present a birth certificate – a document that was not produced in India in 1911 – to prove the year of his birth. His passport and other documented evidence is not acceptable to Guinness.
His trainer, Harmandar Singh, suggests that there is a disconnect in recognizing the status of developing nations:
Harmandar Singh, says he thinks recognition by Guinness World Records is important: “I think it’s important to everybody who’s over a certain age, because it inspires them and allows them to think ‘yes, it is possible’.
“However, the fact remains that the Guinness Book of Records has its rules, and I think they are quite right to have them.”
“However, in the developing countries, their standards simply aren’t up to western standards.”
Guinness certainly has that right, but it’s unfortunate that they’ve decided to play party-pooper to Fauja Singh’s inspirational run.
Really unfortunate that the record will not feature in the records book even though his passport and the letter from the queen congratulating him on his 100th birthday should be a proof good enough.
It seems to me that if Guinness was serious about their credibility as a record of world achievements, they should dedicate some resources to validate Fauja Singh’s age, or accept what evidence is available. It’s not like he had a birth certificate and is failing to produce it. Birth certificates from his time do not exist.
Guinness is basically alienating developing nations from their record books. They can’t credibly claim to chronicle “world records” – just “nations-who-satisfy-their-paperwork-requirements” records.