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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 78

Too Young To Run So Far!

By Ramu Sharma - Syndicate Features

During the middle of last month (April) a four-year-old boy named Budhia Singh ran from Puri to Bhubaneswar, a distance of 65 kilometres, in a little over seven hours and, as reports go, entered the Limca Book of Records. Both the written and visual media in India went ga-ga over the performance. Nobody mentioned whether the boy, who is from a very poor family, received any money for the performance. It is also not known whether his coach, a martial law expert, was honoured for the boy’s feat.

The boy is now a hero in Orissa. In a country starved of sports stars, anyone bordering a miracle is soon deified beyond reasonable limits. And Budhia’s performance cannot be dismissed as a flash in the pan. He is, by all accounts, loaded with tremendous stamina and a big heart. But for all that making him run 65 kilometres is not on. It is certainly against all norms, even if Budhia is ten years old and not four.

Most international sport do not allow children under 12 or 13 to take part in major events. Children below that age are too tender to be put through such gruelling feats. There is a clear age bar against such exploitation.

Fortunately a number of organizations, starting from those involved with child welfare to those belonging to healthcare and medical professionals have come forward, protesting against Budhia Singh made to run such long distances. A couple of more such runs, Budhia may have difficulty in growing up as a normal healthy child.

But India is a strange country. It has its own idea of sports heroes and very little knowledge about sports as such. In fact, India as a country lacks a sports culture, and thus is totally vulnerable to gimmicks.
Budhia is not the first prodigy, if he can be called so, to make news. He may be the youngest, but in the earlier decades there were quite a few youngsters, mostly in the 12 plus group, mostly girls, who used to run long distances and became major stars at that time.

Their parents, taken up by the publicity, too did not realize the burden they were putting on their children and instead encouraged them to take part in as many races as possible. Needless to say that almost all of such cases, disappeared from the scene, never heard after a couple of years. Those kids were obviously burnt out within a couple of years. One sincerely hopes they did not suffer from any health problems while growing up.

The best thing for Budhia Singh now is to help his mother out with the money he has been given, if any, and concentrate on his education. Running obviously comes natural to him, and he should continue to run and build up his stamina. But certainly no running 65 kilometres any more. No way!

- Syndicate Features -

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