Seven months ago, judo coach Biranchi asked little Budhia to run in the hall at his judo-training center in Bhubaneswar (Orissa, India), as punishment for using bad words. General secretary of Orissa Judo Association Biranchi hoped to check on hi in 15 minutes but forgot about it. When he got back seven hours later, the 3-year-old Budhia was still running.
He thought Budhia might have stopped and resumed running when he saw him coming. But boys in the hostel that Biranchi runs and whom he trains, said Budhia kept running at the same pace through they asked him to stop. Amazed by the child’s stamina, Biranchi took him to a doctor, who found him fit. After this, my wife Gita [who is also a judo expert] and I wanted to make Budhia a marathon runner, says Biranchi. Call it coincidence, but the previous night I had watched a marathon runner from Kenya on TV and found that Budhia had a similar style.
Budhia is a rare child, says Doctor, who examined the boy. He is quite intelligent. He remembers the names of more than 100 judo trainees, says Biranchi. He has picked up some good judo techniques as well. The boy from a Goutam Nagar slum in Bhubaneswar lost his father, last year. His mother, who making Rs.250 a month from washing dishes, sent her two elder daughters to two household as maids and gave Budhia away to a hawker for Rs.800, keeping the remaining child with her. Biranchi, who visits the slum as president of the Kalingaputre Basti Basinda Association, brought Budhia to his center, along with his sister, after paying the hawker.
Of 6,000 boys and girls he trained in his 23-year career, 587-47 of them orphans-have got jobs in the police and paramilitary forces. He can get into the Guinness Book of Records with proper grooming, says Biranchi. Budhia covered the 60-km Bhubaneswar-Puri stretch nine times in the last four months, clocking his best time of 5 hours and 45 minutes. He runs barefoot as shoes cause strain and slow him down, says Biranchi, who plans to put hi in school next year.
Efforts are on to find a sponsor for Budhia. His stamina is unusual, says an IAS officer and president of the judo association. He needs regular health check-ups and a special diet. We want him to represent India in international events. Biranchi, who has declined offers to adopt the child, says the government has not given any help. But, minister for sports, says the government is thinking of supporting him.
Won’t the rigours take a toll on Budhia’s health? Says, a government coach: The experiment may affect the lungs and heart and growth. For marathon, one is trained after the age of 12. Even at that age, the maximum one runs at a stretch is 15km once or twice a week.
Dr.Bibekananda Tripathy, a 60-year-old vet who finished first at the January 16 international marathon in Mumbai agrees. Even if he is gifted he should be given the right load at the right age, he says. Otherwise when the real test comes his love for running won’t be there.
But Budhia seems to be enjoying it. He says he just wants to run.
Joke: A boy and a girl standing on the Bus stand. That boy tells, I like to have u r goluse (leg chain) on my chest. The girl said, like that, I also like to put my slipper on your face.