Bengaluru: Kambala star Srinivasa Gowda arrived in Bengaluru on Monday and was felicitated by Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. Later in the evening at another felicitation at Bengaluru's Sports Authority of India centre, Gowda accepted SAI's offer to give trials for a track event but after completing his Kambala commitments. The 28-year-old is juggling between his prior commitments to the rural sport and his newfound fame after a video of him running 142.5 meters in 13.6 seconds on a Kambala track went viral overnight. Gowda is now dubbed India's Usain Bolt.
But Gowda knows too well that the similarity between the two ends with just calling them running sports.
"Usain Bolt has succeeded at world level on track. I am only used to running in fields. The two can't be compared. That's a track event. Here you run with your heels. There it's on the toes," says Gowda.
"I have commitments for a month. So, for the time being, I won't be able to give trials. I will try once I finish these commitments, it is also for my mentor to decide," he told CNN News18.
Gowda has been running in the annual Kambala race for seven years now. The race requires the jockey to run with their buffaloes, the pace and rhythm of both complementing each other.
Gowda's thoughts, however, are full of his love for Kambala.
"I started when I was in the seventh standard. After school, I would go straight to the fields. I want to do something for this sport, contribute to Kambala," Gowda says.
With the video, Gowda's picture with an eight pack abs too has gone viral but he has never been to a gym. With Olympics scheduled for July 2020, high hopes are pinned on him.
"I definitely would love to see him at the Olympics but that is not going to happen overnight. Needs a lot of training," said Gunapala Kadamba, coach at Kambala Academy and founder secretary of Dakshina Kannada Kambala Committee. Gowda trained at the academy too before taking part in the competition.
Sometimes, Kambala jockeys run 30-45 times within 24 hours depending on their progress in the event. He competes in around 18 competitions in a year. But he has never run in shoes.
"We have plans in place. We have sports science and medicine department. But he has to decide. Once he comes, it will be a planned procedure for him where he needs to get accustomed to the difference of things, then coming on track. It will be premature for us to take his trials straight away," said SAI senior director Ajay Kumar Bhal.
"So he has to get conditioned because the dynamics of both are different. When he's ready then series of trials will be taken. We have to change his kind of running, but not lose what he has," he added.