After months of uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kambala season is back in India which started last week in Dakshina Kannada and other coastal districts of Karnataka. To our larger audience, who might recall what Kambala is, then one must harp back to the news last year, when one Srinivas Gowda became an overnight sensation.
Gowda participated as a jockey in the Kambala Buffalo race and drew people's attention, when someone broke the news he is faster than Usain Bolt, the Jamaican legendary world-record holding sprinter.
Prior to the race, Gowda was a virtually unknown entity outside of the circles who know about the annual Kambala race. His feat- sprinting 142.5 metres in 13.62 seconds in the annual event ‘kambala’ which involves participants running with two buffaloes was first reported by local Kannada newspapers and it was not until an Additional Director General of Police told a senior editor of a major news network that Srinivasa Gowda shot to instant fame.
Soon enough, thrilling videos of him running on a paddy field, shepherding two buffaloes surfaced and went viral on social media. There were, of course, comparisons with the legendary Usain Bolt, because Srinivasa Gowda’s 100m timing seemed lesser than the Jamaican sprinter’s.
Bolt had sprinted his way to a sensational timing of 9.58 seconds in 2009, a world record that still stands in official books. A big throw of limelight came when Indian Member of Parliament and sports enthusiast tweeted urging the Athletics Association of India to ‘take this man under their wing’ and even wished to see him as an Olympic champion.
The hype reached further heights when India’s sports minister, Kiren Rijiju, who announced that not only had the Sports Authority of India noticed Srinivasa Gowda, they had already arranged for trials and ensured top coaches give him a look-in.
Where is Srinivas Gowda now?
The hype of Gowda faded soon within weeks after he turned down the offer from Rijiju for the trials. It was clearly understood Indian media didn't have the slightest idea about sports and created the hype just run a nationalistic fervour. The media houses, who celebrate Gowda's feat comparing it to Usain Bolt never even followed up. It was learnt in a report, 29-year-old Gowda, from Mijar Ashwathpur near Moodbidri, sustained injuries after a fall on the Kambala track at Hokkadigoli village in Bantwal taluk on Saturday.
Gowda, representing his owners Shaktiprasad Shetty, Shekar Shetty Mala, Iruvail Panila Bada Poojary and Harshawardhan Padiwal, was all set to participate in three categories at Veera-Vikrama Jodukere Kambala being organised by Mahishamardhini Kambala Samiti. He lost control of the buffaloes that were running at a good speed and sustained injuries on his hand and leg after a fall. He plans to race again at the Aikala Bava Kambala to be held on February 6.
During the last Kambala season, Gowda emerged as the champion. Last year, in the Kambala events organised by the district Kambala committee, Gowda bagged a total of 46 medals including 34 gold and 12 silver from 15 events.