Srinivasa Gowda, the Kambala jockey, who impressed by running a distance of 145 metres in just 13.62 seconds, will not be attending the trials that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) had extended to him. The construction worker from a village of Moodabidri in Karnataka created waves when he covered 100 metres in 9.55 seconds at the Kambala near Mangaluru, prompting social media to compare him to the Olympic gold medal winner Usain Bolt, who has a record of running 100 metres in 9.58 seconds.
Following the news, the Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju invited him to try out at the SAI in Bengaluru, but the offer has been turned down by Gowda as he wants to continue taking part in the Kambala races instead, which are scheduled till March 10. He told News18 that running and Kambala are different sports and that he wanted to "excel" in his chosen sport instead of opting for athletics.
Rijiju had asked the top coaches in SAI to call the 28-year old Gowda after clips of him running during the buffalo race created a frenzy. Kambala is an annual race that is held in Karnataka that requires people to sprint 142 metres with a buffalo through paddy fields. During the race, the racers have to ensure that their buffaloes are under control by whipping and controlling them.
While the feat by the Kambala jockey is praise-worthy, comparing him to Bolt and even passing statements like Gowda can compete with the sprinter is taking things a little too far. In the sport of Kambala, a man's timing is derived from how fast his buffalo runs. The racer also told The New Indian Express that the heels play an important part in the sport, while it is the toes that determine how fast an athlete will run in track-and-field events, squashing any comparisons between Bolt and himself.