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Meet India’s Usain Bolt, Srinivas Gowda

Meet India’s Usain Bolt, Srinivas Gowda

Rural India is full of talents and skills, Srinivas Gowda is one of them.  A construction worker from India, Srinivas Gowda has beaten Usain Bolt’s 100-meter world record with the help of two buffaloes. He became popular overnight when a video of him was circulated on social media. It showed him in a Kambala race in Aikala village near Bengaluru, clocking 142 meters in just 13.62 seconds, reportedly proving that he would have complete 100 meters less than 9.55 seconds, ahead of world’s fastest human, Usain Bolt, who completed the 100 meters in 9.58 seconds.

Rise to Internet Stardom

Srinivas Gowda, prior to the race on Thursday was a virtually unknown entity outside of the circles who know about the annual race. He was first reported by the local Kannada newspapers and it was not until an Additional Director General of Police told a senior editor of a major news network that Gowda shot to instant fame.

Shortly, thrilling videos of Srinivas running on a paddy field, shepherding two buffaloes surfaced and went viral on social sites. There were, of course, comparisons with the Usain Bold, because Srinivas’s 100m timing seemed lesser than the legendary Bolt.

When news of his speed spread thorough local news and social media, the sports minister, Kiren Rijiju offered him for the national sprint trials. Sports minister tweeted on Saturday, saying that they had arranged for Gowda’s train tickets so he could travel to the center run by the Sports Authority of India where the trials would happen.

But Srinivas told BBC that he will not be able to accept the offer. He told that I have injured my leg and my focus is on Kambaba. I am used to running with buffalo in the paddy field. 

Professor Gunapla Kadamba, the founder-secretary of the Kambala Academy, said that it was a great honour for Kambala but unfortunately Gowda would not be able to go for trails immediately.

He said that the problem is that Srinivas has Kambala on the next three Saturdays. That is a commitment that he cannot go back on in any situations. So here they are not rejecting the offer. Maybe Srinivas will go for trials at a later stage.

Srinivasa earns his living as a construction worker and has been taking part in the race ‘Kambala’ for over seven years.

When asked about his record-breaking victory, he said he was excited and praised his teammates- the two buffalo he ran alongside-for doing great.

About the Sport that Srinivasa Took Part in

Srinivasa took part in a traditional Indian sport called ‘Kambala’- an annual event where a man, called the ‘kambala jockey’, has to keep up with two buffaloes, who pull his towards the finish line.

Objectively, the fact that Srinivasa ran so fast while the trained beasts were pulling him at ferocious speed is amazing in itself and by no means can it be done by many other runners.

Another Side

While go through these highlights, we should not forget that the annual event in India’s southern state of Karnataka has had a bit of a controversial history. In the year 2014, animal welfare organizations had approached the Supreme Court of India and got successful in banning ‘kambala’. But in 2017, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance re-legalised the kambala festival in Karnataka.

Second thing is that even as the Srinivasa story has raged abroad, most have not noted that traditional Indian sports like kambala follow hand timings. The daily Indian Express pointed out that Srinivasa’s speed of ‘100 meters in 9.55 seconds was mainly because of the speed of his buffaloes.

Many experts have also said that Bolt’s comparison is not right as Srinivasa’s speed was generated by the buffaloes he was running with. The animals are well-known for reaching speeds of around 35mph that is obviously faster than even Bolt’s record-breaking feat.

Even when Srinivasa was asked how he felt when compared with Usain Bolt, he said, people are comparing me to Usain Bolt. He is a champion globally, I am only running in a slushy paddy field.

Overall, Srinivasa’s achievement is outstanding. But now he needs to take advantage of the upcoming opportunities and hone himself into a professional track and field athlete.

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