‘Kambala’ jockey hailed as Usain Bolt

Deccan Chronicle.  | Gururaj A Paniyadi

Nation, Current Affairs

Srinivas Gowda sprints 145 metres in a mere 13.62 seconds.

Usain Bolt

MANGALURU: ‘Kambala’ (traditional buffalo race in coastal Karnataka) jockey, whose running exploits has evoked a social media frenzy comparing him to multiple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt — whose 100m world record is 9.58 seconds, has also caught the eye of Union youth affairs and sports minister Kiren Rijiju.

Rijiju on Saturday asked the top SAI coaches to conduct a trial of the 28-year-old Kambala jockey Gowda after video clips of him running a distance of 100 metres in just 9.55 seconds have surfaced. Gowda, a construction worker from Moodabidri, took just 13.62 seconds to run a distance of 145m, covering the first 100m in 9.55 seconds, at Kambala in Aikala village near Mangaluru.

The minister also invited the youth to Sports Authority of India facility for felicitation on Tuesday.

“I’ll call Karnataka’s Srinivasa Gowda for trials by top SAI coaches. There’s lack of knowledge in masses about the standards of Olympics especially in athletics where ultimate human strength & endurance are surpassed. I’ll ensure that no talents in India are left out untested,” Rijiju wrote on his twitter handle on Saturday.

Sports Authority of India (SAI) later said on Twitter, “We have reached out to #SrinivasaGowda and booked his train ticket. He will be in SAI’s Bangalore center on Monday where our coaches will assess him. We hope to identify and nurture more talents with inputs from all sports enthusiasts,” the SAI wrote.

Srinivas Gowda has set a record of his own in this Kambala season by winning 32 medals in 11 events. “Winning 11 medals in itself is something great, but this youth has created a record. In some events, he has won three medals in three different categories too. As the crown of his achievement he has now covered the Kambala field in record time. He is a great dedicated Kambala jockey,” lauds Gunapal Kadamba, founder of Kambala Academy.
Meanwhile, Srinivas Gowda seems optimistic about improving his record. “If I get a pair of buffalos that can run faster, then I want to run faster than this,” Gowda said with a smile.

There are a handful of Kambala jockeys like Panappila Praveen Kotian and Vishwanath Shetty whose run matches international sprinters. They have given a tough competition to Gowda in some events and lost by fraction of seconds. They have also defeated him in a few events.

Kadamba is happy as most of all these jockeys including Srinivas Gowda were trained at his academy about nine years ago.

“Gowda was in the first batch of the trainees. The other fast runners were in the later batches,” he said.
In a tough training camp organised by the academy only 16 youth are trained for 12 days. They are trained in Yoga by state-level Yoga instructors. National Institute of Sports (NIS) experts provide training to these youths. Every year these youth are given a five-day refresher course to update themselves. Kambala is now becoming a more professional game.

With Kambala jockeys running at record timing, many feel that if provided good training they could emerge as good athletes. However, Kambala experts feel that the sand track with water provides a good grip and also a good pair of buffalos inspire the jockeys to sprint thus running of Kambala jockeys cannot be compared to sprinters. One of the arguments by the animal lovers who wanted a ban on Kambala was that the body structure of buffalo is not built for running. But the Kambala events have proved that they too can run at a record time.