Fastest Kambala Jockey or Indian Usain Bolt? A Look at the Facts

Srinivasa took just 13.62 seconds to cover a distance of 145 metres during the race at the Aikala village.

Olympic Sports
3 min read

Srinivasa Gowda of Moodabidri recently set a new record as the fastest in the history of Kambala jockey, a traditional sport of the coastal region involving buffalo racing.

The 28-year-old took just 13.62 seconds to cover a distance of 145 metres during the race at Aikala village. This can be equated to completing 100 metres in 9.55 seconds which is faster than the 100m world record held by Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt (9.58 seconds).

Video of the race went viral on social media and also caught the attention of the Indian sports minister Karen Rijiju.

“I’ll call Karnataka’s Srinivasa Gowda for trials by top SAI Coaches. I'll ensure that no talents in India is left out untested,” Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju tweeted soon after.

But the 28-year-old Srinivasa has refused to take part in the trials. He believes that there is no point in comparing him with Usain Bolt as Kambala is a completely different sport altogether.

“People are comparing me to Usain Bolt. He is a world champion, I am only running in a slushy paddy field,” he told News18.

But can his race really be considered a record-breaking sprint? Well, social media has already made him the ‘fastest’ ever in 100m race.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor was quick to tweet and appreciate Srinivasan and hail him as the next big thing.

However, there are many factors which makes a comparison to Usain Bolt superfluous – the major one being that two buffaloes were propelling him in the race.

“The credit of my success should also go to my two buffaloes. They ran very well. I chased them or drove them,” he told News18.

According to a report in The India Express, buffaloes have been known to run at speeds of up to 35 mph. The newspaper reported that buffaloes used in kambala races are usually trained around the year for these events. Thus it is safe to assume that their speeds were not very far from that.

Since buffaloes can run faster than humans, it follows that Gowda was being pulled by them.

“In Kambala race, heels play an important role whereas it is toes in a track race. Not just jockeys, but even buffaloes have a role to play in Kambala. In track race, this is not the case” Gowda told TNIE.

Thus, this makes it a completely different race as compared to the one that Usain Bolt participated in.

In fact, sports journalist Barney Ronay also took a jibe at Shashi Tharoor for this.

Actor Vikrant Massey also pointed out the same fact in a reply to Shashi Tharoor’s tweet.

The time that Srinivas took to complete his race was not recorded electronically, according to president of the Kambala academy, which again makes it difficult to tell the exact timing of the sprint.

"They [Olympic event monitors] have more scientific methods and better electronic equipment to measure speed," Prof K Gunapala Kadamba, president of the Kambala Academy, told BBC Hindi.

This is not the first time that something like this is happening in India.

A video of a farmer from Madhya Pradesh, Rameshwar Gurjar, went viral in which he apparently completed a 100m lap in just 11 seconds without any shoes on a dirt road. He was also called the ‘Usain Bolt of India.’

The impact of that video was such that a special trial race was arranged for Gurjar at the SAI centre in Bhopal. But the farmer from Madhya Pradesh finished last in that race.

“He is exhausted due to the glare of publicity so couldn’t perform well. Will give proper time and training to him.”
Kiren Rijiju Tweeted After the Race

However, Srinivasa Gowda will turn up in Bengaluru on Monday, 17 February.

“I do not know if I will run in trial tomorrow or not but I will be in Bengaluru tomorrow to meet the CM. I need to consult with my Kambala academy mentor (on whether I should run). I need to rest also,” Gowda was quoted as saying by ANI.

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