For all those Indians who were celebrating the emergence of an Indian sprinter faster that Usain Bolt in the form of Karnataka's Srinivasa Gowda, Britain's Guardian newspaper is trying to be a party pooper. The broadsheet has published a story where it claims to debunk the whole narrative.
The paper makes the case that the reason for Gowda's feat of covering 142 meters in 13.42 seconds was the help provided by the buffaloes. The 28-year old man from Mangalore region was participating in the traditional Kambala race which involves a man running along with a pair of buffaloes whom he is holding on to with a leash.
As soon as news of Gowda's performance started doing the rounds of social media, people started requesting Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju to get him to a proper coaching camp and provide good training. The minister was prompt in his response and got the authorities to try and get him over to a Sports Authority of India (SAI) training center on Monday.
However, Gowda refused the offer and said he cannot be as good on sprinting track. But the report of Guardian claims that all the hype is based on misinformation and without the assistance of the buffaloes, the Indian sensation could only manage a sub-11 seconds timing in a 100-meter race. It quotes an expert who provides his opinion on the issue.
"In the 100m, he can run under 11 seconds. This guy is fast, his body is strong, but put simply, buffalo are faster than humans so his job is to keep them straight and not fall down," Ángel David Rodríguez, the former Spanish sprinter told Guardian. "For me this is a fun story about Indian culture, but it's not an athletics story," he added.
Then, a French expert was also quoted as describing the entire media hype as 'stupid.' Now, whether Guardian is right or is trying to pour cold water on an emerging story can only be found out after the result of Gowda's trials, if they take place at all, at SAI center are known. So far, we haven't heard anything.
However, the fact that Rodriguez accepts that this man has potential is not a bad beginning. Considering that Gowda was running barefoot through a paddy field covered with water and still managed to achieve a high speed, albeit with the alleged help of the buffaloes, suggests that when armed with good shoes, proper technique, and a proper track, he could improve himself even more.
Hopefully, Gowda will agree to come for trials and improve on his running skills. Then again, there is another Kambala runner, Nishant Shetty, who ran even faster than Srinivasa. These two men should give a go to sprinting. They can be highly valuable talents for India.