New Delhi: Srinivasa Gowda will be giving Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju's invite for a trial at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) a miss due to 'prior commitment'.
Gowda, a construction worker from Moodabidri in Karnataka, took just 13.62 seconds to run a distance of 145m, covering a 100m stretch in 9.55 seconds, at the Kambala at Aikala village near Mangaluru, prompting some on social media to compare him with Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, whose 100m world record is 9.58 seconds.
It has been learnt by News18.com that Gowda will not be traveling to the SAI Center in Bengaluru and will instead continue taking part in the Kambala races scheduled till March 10. He is also expected to meet Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday.
Speaking to News18, Gowda confirmed news reports suggesting his refusal for the SAI invite, saying that he intends to continue Kambala racing as it is a "different sport altogether".
Experts have also weighed in to advise Gowda to stick to Kambala and he himself accepted that wants to "excel" in the sport.
There was confusion till late Sunday night about the actual date of trial for Gowda. Sources in the Sports Authority of India had told news agencies that Gowda will be given time for acclimatisation before his actual trial. He was expected to reach SAI Bengaluru on Monday.
"Srinivas Gowda will be reaching SAI Bengaluru centre on Monday. He will be given a day or two of rest and acclimatization before his trial takes place. The date of trial has not been fixed yet," SAI sources had said.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju had on Saturday asked the top SAI coaches to conduct a trial of the 28-year-old Kambala jockey Gowda after video clips of him running a distance of 100 metres in just 9.55 seconds during a traditional buffalo race in Karnataka evoked a social media frenzy.
"I'll call Karnataka's Srinivasa Gowda for trials by top SAI coaches. There's a lack of knowledge in masses about the standards of Olympics especially in athletics where ultimate human strength & endurance are surpassed. I'll ensure that no talents in India are left out untested," Rijiju wrote on his twitter handle on Saturday.
Sports Authority of India (SAI) later said on Twitter that Gowda's train tickets have been booked and he will be assessed in Bengaluru on Monday.
"We have reached out to #SrinivasaGowda and booked his train ticket. He will be in SAI's Bangalore center on Monday where our coaches will assess him. We hope to identify and nurture more talents with inputs from all sports enthusiasts," the SAI wrote.
Kambala is an annual race held in Karnataka where people sprint 142m through paddy fields with buffalo. During the race, the racers try to bring the buffaloes under control by holding their reins tight and whipping them, making it amply clear that the animal plays an equally important role in achieving the timing.
Traditionally, it is sponsored by local Tuluva landlords and households in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and business tycoon Anand Mahindra tweeted to ask Sports Ministry and Athletics Federation of India to take Gowda under its wings while some athletics experts were not amused at the feat of Gowda.
Athletics Federation of India (AFI) President Adille Sumariwalla said that he would be happy to take in Gowda if he is found to have the credentials to compete at the highest level after an assessment by the top coaches.
(With inputs from Agencies)