Indian man who races buffaloes at record speed compared to Usain Bolt

Colin Drury
Indian man who races buffaloes at record speed compared to Usain Bolt

An buffalo racer in India has been compared to Usain Bolt after apparently sprinting 142 metres in 13.42 seconds.

Srinivas Gowda, 28, made the dash while competing in a kambala, a hugely popular sporting festival in which competitors run through paddy fields.

His time – if true – makes him, metre for metre, faster than the Jamaican Olympic champion who holds the world 100m record of a sluggish-by-comparison 9.58 seconds.

Competitiors race at kambala: Screengrab

“People are comparing me to Usain Bolt,” the construction worker demurred afterwards. “He is a world champion, I am only running in a slushy paddy field.”

But after his legendary accomplishment made headlines across the country, organisers in the southwestern state of Karnataka appeared to row back from the stated time.

“We would not like to indulge in any comparison with others,” Prof K Gunapala Kadamba, president of the Kambala Academy, told the BBC. “They [Olympic event monitors] have more scientific methods and better electronic equipment to measure speed.”

Nonetheless, responding to the buzz on social media, Kiren Rijiju, India’s minister for youth affairs and sports, said he would invite Mr Gowda for national trials.

“There’s a lack of knowledge in masses about standards of Olympics, especially in athletics where ultimate human strength and endurance are surpassed,” he said. “I’ll ensure that no talents in India are left out untested.”

Kambala, which roughly translates to “paddy-growing mud field” in Tulu, is a traditional sport in which competitors sprint either 132 metres or 142 metres alongside two buffalo that are tethered together.

It is controversial and has previously attracted strong criticism from international animal rights groups.