On 10-Feb-2018 In People & Politics
Recently, a Portugal Football coach who is in India for coaching the U-17 Football team claimed that Portugal, with a population of 10 million people against India's 1.32 billion has over 1 lakh football players while the Indian side is still 'inexperienced' and lacks quality.Damaging enough? Do you also feel bad when India remains at the toe of Olympics Medal Tally almost everytime? Well then let me assure you that this article here will leave the Indian in you fuming once you reach its end. The story is about a prodigy, who had everything in him that any given Olympic Gold Medallist must have in store, but the only thing he lacked was a bright fate. The list of forgotten heroes in the Indian sports is huge but this boy here still has the fire in him and all that he needs is your help.Read his story, find out about his current condition, and then decide if you wish to help him or turn a blind eye just as the Indian sports fraternity.NOTE: The image used in the thumbnail is a still from the movie Budhia Singh: Born to Run
Budhia became a national hero for a very short tenure when the news of him running back-to-back marathons at the tender age of 'something short of five' broke out. Born in Odisha in 2002 (birthdate not known)Note: Some of the images used are from his biopic, Budhia Singh: Born to Run. The original images of him are ahead in the story.
Can you imagine a childhood where an alcoholic father has passed away leaving his wife and son to live in a gruesome poverty where earning a daily bread and butter is next to impossible? Even worse, his mother was so under the weight of a tough life that she had to literally sell Budhia to a travelling salesman for a sum of meagre Rs 850 when he was just 2-year-old.If a mother had taken a step that heartbreaking, you can just imagine how terrible was their condition.
What could've been the end of life for Budhia, fortunately, turned out to be his ray of hope for a better future when Judo coach Biranchi Das saved him from the trap of that greedy salesman who probably would've pushed Budhia into some 'bad business'. Coach Biranchi saw in him what nobody ever did, not even his mother or for that matter, Budhia himself. He saw a World Champion in Budhia and made sure that he proves his point no matter what.
When Budhia was just over four in age, an age where he was a regular in pissing his pants wet almost every night, coach Biranchi started preparing him for something that's not possible even for the grownups to achieve. Yes, at a tender age of four, Budhia had already run a good above 50 marathons under his coach's guidance.You might be thinking that all this came very easy for the coach-student duo but no, what you'll be reading ahead will shock you to the core. Budhia was BANNED from running, and the reason behind will get on your nerves...
The so-called Child Welfare couldn't digest the fact that a Judo coach turned running coach Biranchi was 'pushing' a child into covering such insane distances (that can lead to burnout syndrome). While you may gain some sympathy and agree with the Child Welfare here, but the medical tests done on Budhia had already proven that he was a wonder kid because his heart rate was always recorded fine post his marathons.But the government somehow had an issue with the duo's growing fame and that led to a senseless ban on Budhia from participating in running events. All this, after Budhia set a World Record by becoming world's youngest marathon runner and completing a crazy distance of 65kms from the city of Puri to Bhubaneshwar.
Well, coach Biranchi has his unconventional set of rules whenever Budhia was running. The coach won't let Budhia drink even a drop of water while he always carried a bottle with him in order to lure Budhia to cross the finishing line. He'd not give him anything to eat and not even let Budhia go to piss (there's this hysterical instance when Budhia was pissing and running together because he wasn't allowed to take a break) while he was running.Having told all this, I must also add that it was his coach who always bought him the best pair of shoes, a healthy diet pre and post workouts, bearing everything on his own because he had seen the cheques from government getting bounced.So, was banning Budhia, taking him away from his coach, and admitting him to the SAI sports hostel a right move?
When an actor/dancer/singer starts early, s/he is all praise, and people see them as prodigies. Say for Mr Perfectionist Aamir, if he was banned just like Budhia, we wouldn't have seen those epic movies like Lagaan, Rang De Basanti, 3 Idiots, PK and Dangal. A great career could've never taken flight.But wait, we have some more examples of hypocrisy here...
1. In 2006, Infosys Chief Narayan Krishnamurthy called making Budhia run 65kms as cruel.2. Olympian PT Usha asked the Orissa Govt to restrain Budhia from running because she felt it to be life-threatening.3. Milkha Singh who in all his interviews claimed that he wishes someone better than him to take birth on the Indian soil and earn an Olympic Gold in the running but he also was not happy with Budhia's heroics.Now, all of them's concern might've been correct, but when we also saw none of them coming forward to secure a potential runner's future, we only knew that their words were hollow.Very unfortunate, because...
From left -1. Tara Lipinski (US Skater) won her first gold medal in the Ladies' Single event in the 1998 Winter Olympics at the age of 15.2. Donna Elizabeth de Varona participated in the 4x100 meter freestyle relay at the 1960 Olympics on the qualifying team that won the Gold medal. She was just 13-year-old.3. Dominique Moceanu left the gymnastic fans in a pleasant shock when she became a part of 1996 U.S. women's gymnastics team known as The Magnificent Seven that also won the Gold. She was 14-year-old then.But for the Indian government, Budhia was 'too young'.
Yeah, there stands our wonder boy, our Forrest Gump Budhia looking all handsome. But is he running now?Well, Budhia's new coach claims that as he was never exposed to competitions, he lacks a lot many skills and that he does not even win school level competitions today, doubting his Olympic chances. Well, many sports lovers and followers will now doubt this coach's coaching abilities that he could not turn coal into a diamond.Let us now hear some of Budhia's words from an interview-
"I have never got special treatment. My school and hostel was free for everyone, not just me. The training that I get in school is given to everyone, not just me. I want to be a sportsperson and go to the Olympics. I want to represent India there. But I am not training now. One teacher coaches 12 students, whereas in other countries, two coaches teach one student. The diet isn't good as well. I get only oily food. I am not allowed to buy food from outside. I don't have any freedom inside the hostel. Nobody knows me now."
"I will run 100kms with my coach by my side," Budhia had said after making the world record.But sadly, his fearless coach's Olympic 2016 dream remained a dream and Budhia is long forgotten. We just hope Budhia gets a turnaround in his career and that government lifts the ban from him.Share this story as much as you can so that we see Budhia bringing a medal for us in the Olympics 2024.