'Bolt is Bolt, Gowda is Gowda': Athletes urge caution amongst excitement over Karnataka buffalo jockey

Mumbai: From a construction worker to the Sports Authority of India’s hostel, it has been a whirlwind journey for Kambala jockey Srinivasa Gowda, who hit the headlines for running a 142m-stretch in 13.62 seconds, the fastest-ever time in this traditional sport in Mangaluru, Karnataka, recently.

But many have questioned the comparison of his feat with the legendary Usain Bolt's track record of 100 metres in 9.58 seconds.

However, there is no mistaking Gowda's talent and his 'ripped' physique sent ripples across social media, with questions being raised about similar hidden talents in rural India.

Gowda's pictures were spotted by no less than Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, who promptly sent him to the Sports Authority of India centre in Bengaluru, for training under a recognised coach.

What makes Gowda's feat all the more remarkable is that he was running alongside a pair of buffaloes which also generated considerable speed, but the race was run in a slushy field, which could only be a speed deterrent.

"We will encourage him, there are many hidden talents in our country, and he is one among them," said Olympian Sahana Kumari.

“Comparing Gowda to Bolt is uncalled for as the Jamaican is a legend, I know the way he trains," said Kumari, the jumper from Bengaluru.

“Yes, he is undoubtedly outstanding and I would also say this is a talent from rural India, please don’t compare him with Usain Bolt. Bolt is Bolt and Gowda is Gowda,’ said another international athlete on condition of anonymity.“ It is time for the concerned authorities to go beyond boundaries, to tap talent.

”Meanwhile, Gowda downplayed the comparisons to Bolt. “People are comparing me to Usain Bolt. He is a world champion, I am only running in a slushy paddy field," the Kambala jockey humbly said.

This is not the first time Kiren Rijiju has assured support to athletes, after social media clips of their feat went viral. Last year, Rijiju had invited a Madhya Pradesh man, Rameshwar Singh after a video of him completing a 100m race on barefoot in 11 seconds went viral.

Comparing Gowda, a part-time construction worker, to sprint great Bolt, some social media users calculated that Srinivasa would have completed a 100m race in 9.55 seconds, 0.03 seconds faster than Bolt's 100m world record.

Twenty-eight-year-old Gowda shot to fame after it came to light that he had broken the record for the fastest run in Kambala, a sport in Karnataka where farmers sprint alongside a pair of buffaloes on slushy tracks. Srinivasa Gowda reportedly completed the 142m race in just 13.62 seconds, setting a new record in this traditional sport.

"I will call Srinivasa Gowda for trials by top SAI Coaches. There's a lack of knowledge in masses abt standards of Olympics, especially in athletics where ultimate human strength and endurance are surpassed. I'll ensure that no talents in India are left out untested," Rijiju tweeted.

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