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The story of India Kambala racer, Srinivas Gowda

Srinivas Gowda, a part-time construction worker is said to be faster than Usain Bolt when he broke the record for fastest Kambala race. Here is the tale behind India’s Usain Bolt.

Last updated: 12.03.2020
Srinivas Gowda | Sports Social Blog

From an ordinary laborer to an overnight sensation, the journey of Srinivas Gowda is nothing less than a roller-coaster ride. Srinivas is a part-time construction worker and a Kambala jockey hailing from Karnataka.

What is Kambala?

Kambala is a traditional buffalo racing sport. It is held every year in Karnataka from the month of November to March. This is a sport where farmers sprint with a pair of buffaloes on the paddy field. A Kambala jockey drives a pair of buffaloes which is tied to a plough. In general, two jockeys running on slush tracks, compete against each other in a Kambala race.

Srinivas Gowda

Srinivas was interested in Kambala since his childhood. He has been practicing the sport for 15 years now. He has proved to be one of the best buffalo racers in the Kambala events held at Karnataka. He has so far won 29 awards in 12 Kambala races.


Srinivas Gowda broke the record for the fastest Kambala race in the history of the traditional bull racing sport. He came into limelight for a grainy video of his in which he ran 145 meters in 13.62 seconds in Kambala. The local newspapers and televisions reported this record-breaking event and screened him as ‘India’s Usain Bolt’. The video went viral on social media and many high-profile people celebrated him.

Srinivas Gowda vs Usain Bolt – How it all started?

The approximate calculations – 145m in 13.62 sec = 100m in 9.55 sec. This means he ran 0.03 sec faster than the fastest man on the earth, Usain Bolt. A few notable celebrities including business tycoons and politicians wanted to bring out the Olympic champion in Srinivas Gowda. He was awarded a cash prize of ₹ three lakhs by the Karnataka government.

National Trials

His viral video did not fail to gain the attention of Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju. He said that the governments will make necessary arrangements to offer a national trial for Gowda from the top Sports Authority of India (SAI) coaches. This was said to happen in Bengaluru. However, as shocking as it might sound Gowda refused to attend the trials. He cited his lack of experience as the reason and also pointed out that both of these sports are very different.

Gowda and coach

"I never thought will run this fast. The main role was played by the buffaloes and the owner. He looked after them well. The buffaloes can run even faster," Gowda said. Meanwhile, Kambala academy president K Gunapala Kadamba stated that Srinivas Gowda has a series of Kambala events scheduled and will give the trials later.

He also gave some insight into how both sports are different and are unique in their own ways. India Today has reported Professor Kadamba explaining about this. "We can’t compare Usain Bolt to Srinivas Gowda. Even tomorrow, if Bolt participates in Kambala, he cannot be like Srinivas Gowda," said Kadamba.

When the whole nation failed to understand the basics and was celebrating the new sensation, Gowda and Kadamba held them back and they could not have put in any better.

Why is it wrong to compare Usain Bolt and Srinivas Gowda?

As said earlier, these both are two different sports. The techniques in measuring time in the Olympics and Kadamba are very different. It is very much clear from the video that the buffaloes speed is helping the Kambala Jockey to maintain the pace. Also, Gowda points out that in 100m races, athletes rely on their toes whereas Kambala jockeys rely on their heels for their pace.

If Srinivas Gowda is compared to Usain Bolt, what happens to Nishant Shetty who ran faster than Gowda in another Kambala race.

Though Srinivas and Nishant are spectacular in their own ways, it might not be right to compare them with Usain Bolt.

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