When the Olympic torch makes its way through Japan ahead of the games this summer, the world’s oldest person will take her turn carrying it.Kane Tanaka turned 118 in January and this May, she’s going to make history with the torch.
The supercentenarian - someone over 110 years old - will become the oldest Olympic torchbearer, beating former record holders Aida Gemanque, who lit the torch at the 2016 Rio Summer Games at 106, and table tennis player Alexander Kaptarenko, who ran with the torch at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games at 101 years old. Tanaka’s family will push her in a wheelchair for most of her 100-meter leg, but she’s determined to walk the final few steps as she passes the torch to the next runner. She even has a new pair of sneakers ready for the event.
Tanaka has lived an impressive life - surviving cancer twice, living through two global pandemics and two world wars, and working at the family store until she was 103. Now she lives in a nursing home and she still enjoys fizzy drinks, doing math and playing Othello. “It’s great she’s reached that age and can still keep up an active lifestyle,” her grandson,Eiji, says. “We want other people to see that and feel inspired, and not to think age is a barrier.”