‘India’s Usain Bolt’ gets call for trials

‘India’s Usain Bolt’ gets call for trials

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 15

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has invited Karnataka’s buffalo-racer Srinivas Gowda for trials under the best Sports Authority (SAI) of India coaches. The Athletics Federation of India is more than willing to include him in a training camp.

Gowda shot to fame after claims were made that he ran 100 metres in 9.55 seconds while competing in Kambala, a sport in which the competitor sprints 142m through paddy fields with buffaloes. He himself is embarrassed and doesn’t know why everyone is comparing him to Usain Bolt, whose world record stands at 9.58 seconds.

Gowda has been called to the SAI centre in Bengaluru on Monday, and he will be assessed by coaches on whether he can excel in the extremely competitive world of sports sprinting.

Analysts feel the comparison with Bolt, who has won eight Olympics gold medals, is not right as Gowda is a Kambala (buffalo) jockey with no experience in sprint racing at any level.

However, the video clip of the 28-year-old running caught the attention of social media celebrities, who suggested that India may have found its very own sprint king. In the video, Gowda has purportedly been clocked running 142.5 metres in 13.62 seconds, from which a timing of 9.55 seconds over 100 metres was extrapolated.

After the video surfaced, Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor wrote on Twitter: “Faster Than Usain Bolt? Karnataka Man Running With Buffaloes Covers 100 Metres in Just 9.55 Seconds. I urge the Athletics Association of India to take this man under their wing & make an Olympic champion of him. Wonder how many hidden talents we have!”

Mahindra & Mahindra chairman Anand Mahindra pleaded with Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju to help Gowda: “Now either @KirenRijiju provides him training as a 100m sprinter or we get Kambala to become an Olympic event. Either way, we want a gold medal for Srinivasa!”

Rijiju responded positively: “I’ll call Karnataka’s Srinivasa Gowda for trials by top SAI Coaches. There’s lack of knowledge in masses about the standards of Olympics especially in athletics where ultimate human strength & endurance are surpassed. I’ll ensure that no talents in India is left out untested.”

‘No chance’

Before Gowda, it was Rameshwar Gurjar who was hailed as the future sprint king of India. A video clip of him running barefoot had found resonance with celebrities last year, and he was supposed to regularly clock 11 seconds over 100 metres. Sadly, the 19-year-old finished last in proper trials and has not been heard of since.

Two-time Olympian Gurbachan Singh Randhawa is critical of the way social media builds up such stories. “His timing is way off. I am a hundred percentage convinced that his timing is wrong,” Randhawa told The Tribune, and added sarcastically: “If he can clock 9:55 seconds on a slippery field, I am sure he will easily clock sub-8 seconds (in a trial)!”

“But seriously, this is enough. I bet in the trial, he will not come near the timing that everyone is so happy about. Kitni bhi baar karalo, I don’t think it is possible,” he added.

Buffalo-racer’s exploits catch govt eye

  • Srinivas Gowda, 28-year-old construction worker, is a Kambala jockey from Moodabidri in Karnataka
  • Kambala is an annual race held in Karnataka where people sprint 142m through paddy fields with buffaloes

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