Usain Bolt may have some competition. A Karnataka villager and Kambala jockey has become an overnight sensation after he ran the traditional buffalo race, covering 142.50 meters in just 13.62 seconds.
The timing was enough to make 28-year-old Srinivasa Gowda the fastest runner in the history of the traditional sport of the coastal region, breaking a 30-year-old record. It also led to comparisons with Bolt’s world record sprint of 100 meters in just 9.58 seconds.
As Gowda ran 142.50 meters in 13.62 seconds, people simply calculated what his speed would have been for 100 metres. It turned out to be just 9.55 seconds, .03 seconds faster than Bolt’s record.
Although the records cannot be directly compared, since the Kambala jockey was running alongside a pair of buffaloes and the speed generated was also by the animals. But the race was run in a slushy field, which can only be a speed deterrent.
Even without the comparisons, Gowda’s feat is remarkable on its own.
Kambala is an ancient, traditional Buffalo race in muddy or slushy paddy fields of Mangalore and Udupi regions of Karnataka.
Many villages organise Kambala in which dozens of enthusiastic youth participate with their best trained buffaloes.
According to locals who witnessed his lightning run, the joy on the 28-year-old’s face reflects what it means to be a custodian of a culture in its truest sense.
After his run made him an overnight sensation, a smiling and shy Gowda told media that he was surprised by the amazing response he is getting.
"I love Kambala. The credit of my success should also go to my two buffalos. They ran very well. I chased them or drove them", he said.
His unbelievable feat has set the internet on fire. Several thousand people across the globe have shared it on Twitter and Facebook.
Some even suggested the government should train him for the Olympics.
Under pressure from some animal rights activists, Kambala was banned a few years ago as it involves the jockeys whipping buffaloes to make them run faster.
However, then Congress government in Karnataka led by chief minister Siddaramaiah passed a special legislation allowing it. In some Kambala events, the prize money crosses several lakhs.