India's 'Usain Bolt' buffalo runner turns down sprint trial

NEW DELHI — A buffalo jockey in India has refused to take part in a track and field trial after his record-setting performance in a traditional footrace drew comparisons with Olympic sprint legend Usain Bolt.

Srinivas Gowda and his buffaloes ran 142.5 meters in 13.62 seconds, setting a record in the annual race known as Kambala in the southern state of Karnataka.

With a time that equates to running 100 m in 9.55 seconds, compared to the retired Bolt's world record of 9.58 sec, social media buzz erupted over the chiseled construction worker.

But with the Tokyo Olympics looming in July, Gowda politely declined an invitation from India's sports minister to try out at the Sports Authority of India in Bangalore.

"I will not be attending trials at Sports Authority of India. I want to achieve more in Kambala," Gowda, 28, told Indian media.

"Kambala and track events are different and those who have done well in one cannot replicate in the other.

"Many who have achieved in track events have tried Kambala and have not been successful. In Kambala we run on heels whereas in track it is on toes."

Kambala is an annual race where racers splash 142 m through paddy fields holding a rope attached to two buffaloes, who run ahead of them.

Many users have noted that the runners are pulled along by the buffaloes, who are lashed together.

"Never in my dream did I think that I would be so famous. The credit should go to my buffaloes," said Gowda.

"I could achieve this only because they cooperated with me."

— Agence France-Presse

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