Karnataka's 'Usain Bolt' Buffalo Runner Draws Nation's Attention, Turns Down Sports Minister's Invite

India   |   Published : 17 Feb 2020 11:12 AM GMT / Updated : 2020-02-17T17:22:44+05:30
Kiren Rijiju Buffalo Racer

Image Credits: Kiren Rijiju/Facebook, ETV Bharat Chhattisgarh

After Gowda's story went viral on social media, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju had arranged for his trials at Bengaluru SAI centre.

In the Kambala racing event held at Aikala village on February 1, 28-year-old Karnataka's Srinivas Gowda ran 142.50 metres in 13.62 seconds - the fastest in the buffalo racing sport. He was quickly compared to Usain Bolt after many pointed out that Gowda would have completed 100m race in 9.55s, which is 0.03s faster than Bolt's 100m world record.

Gowda became an overnight sensation after he broke the record for being the fastest runner in the traditional buffalo race, Kambala.

After Gowda's story went viral on social media, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju had arranged for his trials at Bengaluru SAI centre.

On Saturday, February 15, in a reply to a tweet by Mahindra Group Chairman, Anand Mahindra, who asked the Union Sports Minister to provide the runner with training, Rijuju had said that he will call the runner for trials.

"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 are left out untested," Kiren Rijiju said in a tweet.

Hours after the Minister's tweet, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General had confirmed in a tweet that they have booked train tickets for Gowda and that he will be in SAI's Bangalore centre on Monday for assessment.

"We have reached out to #SrinivasaGowda and booked his train ticket. He will be in SAI's Bangalore centre on Monday where our coaches will assess him. We hope to identify and nurture more talents with inputs from all sports enthusiasts," the tweet read.

Even Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted, "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!"

Gowda, however, said that he is not sure about his participation in trials by the Sports Authority of India(SAI).

On Sunday, Gowda said that he will focus on Kambala and was not interested in the SAI trials. However, he added that he will meet the Chief Minister, BS Yediyurappa, in Bengaluru on Monday.

"I do not know if I will run in trial tomorrow or not but I will be in Bengaluru tomorrow to meet the CM. I need to consult with my Kambala academy mentor (on whether I should run). I need to rest also," Gowda was quoted by ANI.

Many questioned equating speeds in a race of buffaloes to that of a race for humans. Gowda clocking 13.62 seconds maybe because of the speed of his buffaloes.

Renowned sports journalist Barney Ronay took a jibe at Tharoor's post, saying, "And his buffaloes too, who must also be quicker than Bolt. A serious cluster of talent there."

Gowda himself told The New Indian Express, "In Kambala race, heels play an important role whereas it is toes in a track race. Not just jockeys, but even Buffaloes have a role to play in Kambala. In track race, this is not the case."

Kambala is a traditional buffalo race popular in the coastal districts of Karnataka, in which barefoot jockeys run behind a pair of buffaloes. A school dropout and presently working as a construction labourer, Gowda has been pursuing the sport since he was 15 years of age.

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