Kane Tanaka, who has twice survived most cancers, lived by two world pandemics and loves fizzy drinks, will take the flame because it passes by Shime, in her house prefecture of Fukuoka.

While Tanaka’s household will push her in a wheelchair for many of her 100-meter (about 328 toes) or so leg, the supercentenarian — an individual aged over 110 years outdated — is set to stroll the remaining few steps, as she passes the torch to the subsequent runner.

NCS spoke solely with Tanaka, who has a brand new pair of sneakers for the occasion — a present from her household on her birthday in January.

“It’s great she reached that age and she can still keep up an active lifestyle — we want other people to see that and feel inspired, and not to think age is a barrier,” mentioned her grandson Eiji Tanaka, who’s in his 60s.

Previous report holders for the oldest Olympic torchbearers embrace Aida Gemanque of Brazil, who lit the torch at the 2016 Rio Summer Games age 106, and desk tennis participant Alexander Kaptarenko, who ran with the torch at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games at 101 years outdated.

Life of a super-centenarian

Tanaka was born in 1903 — the yr aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright made historical past by finishing the world’s first powered flight.

She went on to have 4 youngsters with the rice store proprietor she married at 19 years outdated, and labored in the household retailer till she was 103. She has 5 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

She lived by two world wars and the 1918 Spanish flu, though her grandson Eiji mentioned: “I don’t remember her talking much about the past … She’s very forward thinking — she really enjoys living in the present.”

And she is sort of as outdated as the trendy Olympic Games, which started in 1896.
When the Olympics have been final held in Tokyo in 1964, Tanaka was 61 years outdated. When counting each the summer season and winter editions of the video games, this yr’s Olympics will be the 49th of her lifetime.
Tanaka now lives in a nursing house, the place she often wakes at 6 a.m. and enjoys taking part in the strategic board sport, Othello. Tanaka’s household, who haven’t been in a position to go to her for 18 months throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, mentioned staying curious and doing math are her secrets and techniques to conserving the thoughts sharp and physique wholesome.
Kane Tanaka, age 32 in 1935, is pictured in the center of the front row.Kane Tanaka, age 32 in 1935, is pictured in the center of the front row.

Tanaka is in no way Japan’s solely centenarian.

For the first time final yr, Japan recorded greater than 80,000 centenarians, based on the nation’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry — marking the fiftieth consecutive annual improve.
In 2020, one in each 1,565 folks in Japan was over 100 years outdated — greater than 88% of them girls.

In Japan, girls have a life expectancy of 87.45 years in comparison with 81.4 for males, authorities figures launched in July 2020 confirmed.

In 2019, the Guinness Book of World Records licensed Tanaka as the world’s oldest living individual, and now she has her sights on one other milestone — the report for the oldest individual to ever dwell is held by a French girl, who died age 122.
“(Kane) said she wants to break that record,” mentioned Eiji Tanaka, her grandson.

Connecting generations

Tanaka’s household mentioned she hasn’t been doing any coaching for the torch relay, however is worked up to be part of the Olympics.

“She has always loved festivals,” Eiji Tanaka mentioned.

But he warned her participation in May — which is sponsored by a Japanese life insurance coverage firm — will rely upon her well being and climate circumstances.

The pandemic-delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay begins in Fukushima prefecture on March 25, with a number of Covid-19 countermeasures in place, officers introduced final month.

The torch will first undergo areas affected by the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, marking the catastrophe’s tenth anniversary, earlier than touring “around every corner of Japan,” officers mentioned.

The coronavirus restrictions embrace avoiding “the 3 Cs” — closed areas, crowded locations, and close-contact settings.

Those who want to view the relay from the roadside should put on masks, keep house in the event that they really feel unwell, and chorus from touring exterior the prefecture they dwell in.

Spectators have additionally been instructed to “support with applause … rather than by shouting or cheering.” The relay will be streamed dwell on-line.

Torchbearers will be required to fill out a day by day well being guidelines two weeks earlier than the relay and chorus from actions that will contain a threat of an infection, reminiscent of consuming out or going to crowded locations, officers suggested.

Tanaka’s great-granddaughter Junko Tanaka arrange a Twitter account in January 2020 to have fun the supercentenarian’s life.

She tweets images of her great-grandmother having fun with treats reminiscent of cake and soda pop, and shares her achievements and the exchanges she has together with her relations.

“I started a Twitter feed on her because it’s quite amazing that at 118 she drinks Coca-Cola herself and plays Othello,” Junko Tanaka mentioned. “I might be biased because I’m related to her but I think it’s kind of amazing — I wanted to share that with the world and for people to feel inspired and to feel her joy.”

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