Budhia Singh's story is one that broke many hearts when it first came to light in the mid-2000s. He was the poster boy for inspiration and subject to several picture-perfect interviews and movies. However, things weren’t all that rosy for a boy who has had a rollercoaster of a life since he shot to fame.
Born in the Khordha district of Odisha, Budhia was sold off by his mother to a businessman at a very early age after his father died. Further ill-treatment led him to be bought by a Judo coach name Biranchi Das who put him up at the local orphanage.
Budhia’s knack for long-distance running came to the forefront when he was punished one day by Biranchi and was made to run. His coach seemingly forgot about the punishment and came back after 5 hours to find him still running.
It was this turning point that led him to begin training as a long-distance runner.
A documentary was made on his life in 2011 and a Bollywood movie in 2016.
As per the Limca Book of Records in 2006, he ran from Puri to Bhubaneshwar in the span of seven hours and two minutes thereby making him the world's youngest marathon runner at the age of five. This was followed by the Rajiv Gandhi Award for Excellence in the same year. He continued to rack up and finish national-level marathons over the next few years and even stayed at the SAI hostel for 9 years as a part of his training.
However, his career began to spiral due to some unfortunate events.
Biranchi Das was shot dead in 2008 as a result of a personal altercation. Before that, he had been accused of making financial gains over Budhia’s success and this led to the constant tension between Budhia’s family and Birachi Das. Budhia also began to reduce his running and training time to about 1-2 hours per day at the age of 13. It was clear that events outside the field and lack of support had taken a toll on his promising career.
As of today, Budhia Singh has set his sights on an Olympic gold medal in 2024. After leaving the SAI hostel, he has continued to live with his mother and sisters in his house in Bhubaneshwar. Despite being offered to be coached by world-famous runner, Patrick Sang, Budhia seems to be training alone 6 days a week. The lack of funding led to a Twitter page being set up for him to get the necessary funds for himself but he continues to be alone in his pursuits.