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Philip Rabinowitz, the world's speediest centenarian, who divides his time between Australia and South Africa, enjoyed taking part in Sydney's annual City to Surf fun run last month. Spurred on by 30 members of his family, he ran the 8.7 miles (14 kilometres) road race in a little over three hours (the winner, a much younger athlete from Tanzania, took 41 minutes and four seconds).

He finished "in good shape, good health and good humour," according to a race spokeswoman.

Rabinowitz, aka Flying Phil and Rabinoblitz, entered the Guinness Book of World Records by covering 100 metres in 30.86 seconds at the Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town (South Africa) in July, beating the previous record of 36.19 seconds set by Erwin Jaskulski, of Austria, who has reluctantly given up running because of failing eyesight.

Hawaii Senior Olympics president Mark Zeug said Erwin and Phil look like brothers. We know they are, with this unique bond they share. But there's more: "I looked at a map," [South African journalist Eben} Human said. "And it looks like they were born only about 300km (186 miles) apart in a region that was part of old Russia."
- Kalani Simpson's sports column

"Oh I feel wonderful now, absolutely wonderful," Phil said after achieving the world title. "I don't know how long it's going to be like this. Every time I go, I break my own record. I get younger and younger. For me, it was not a problem. All my life I play sport - tennis, soccer, parallel bars, running, walking."

He said the secret of fitness and longevity was fresh orange juice before breakfast, an apple after each meal, and lots of walking. (He walks four miles a day to and from his daughter's factory, where he looks after the accounts.)

Flying Phil was born in Lithuania, and moved to South Africa when he was 21. These days, he divides his time between Cape Town and Sydney, where he enjoys the company of two daughters, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Last February, great-grandfather Phil celebrated his 100th birthday with family and friends near his home in Hout Bay (Cape Town). He told an interviewer that the secret of his long and happy life was moderation - "moderation in everything. It's in eating and in sleeping and even in walking. You know what I tell young fellows? 'You are young and you play with young ladies. There, it's also moderation - three partners a night is enough.'"



Story first posted September 2004

Copyright 2004

Eric Shackle

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