'India's Usain Bolt' turns down SAI trials

Srinivasa Gowda, a jockey in the traditional buffalo race of Kambala, became an overnight national sensation last week, earning him the nickname 'India's Usain Bolt'.

Though he was expected to appear for trials for a track event at Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Bengaluru on Monday, Gowda has said he is not interested in the trials and will focus on Kambala.

Gowda said that track event is a totally different ball game and he was not sure he can make it big there.

After news about Gowda's feat started trending, Union sports minister Kiren Rijiju had invited him for the trials. Rijiju tweeted, "I'll call Srinivasa Gowda for trials by top SAI coaches. There's lack of knowledge in masses abt standards of Olympics especially in athletics where ultimate human strength & endurance are surpassed. I'll ensure that no talents in India is left out untested."

Rijiju was responding to a tweet from industrialist Anand Mahindra, who demanded a "gold medal" for Srinivasa Gowda.

Kambala involves a jockey driving a pair of buffaloes across a paddy field. The sport has been popular in villages of Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Kasargod in Kerala for centuries. Gowda shot to fame after he won a 145-metre race in just 13.62 seconds.

This works out to covering a distance of 100 metres in 9.55 seconds, better than Usain Bolt's record of 9.58 seconds. So Gowda completed 100-metre mark .03 seconds faster than Bolt.

(with news agency inputs)