Bhubaneswar: A day after the news of the absence of Budhia Singh, the boy wonder who had raised hopes for Odisha and the country in the marathon event ten years ago, at the sports hostel was aired on leading Odia news channel OTV, the Sports and Youth Affairs department woke up from its deep slumber and held a meeting on the issue presided over by department secretary Saswat Mishra.
After the meeting with the concerned officials, Mishra said, “Generally, five to 10 per cent athletes residing in hostel don’t return in time after the summer vacation. We have served a notice to him to report at the hostel within four days.”
“As Budhia has not returned to the hostel yet, we have contacted his uncle. Besides, the coaches had also visited Budhia’s house and met his elder sister. They said he is in Nayagarh and will return in two to four days,” Mishra informed.
“We are waiting for Budhia to return. His mother has not informed us what is the problem Budhia is facing. If Budhia wants to get trained anywhere else and wants to live at some other place, we will not force him to live in the hostel here,” Mishra added.
Notably, Budiha had expressed his disappointment over the facilities provided to him in the Sports Hostel in Bhubaneswar. “I want that the Sports Hostel authorities should send me to participate in the inter-state and national athletic events. But they are not allowing me to do so. Besides, there is no coach who can train me properly to participate in major events,” he had told OTV on March 30 this year.
Budhia’s mother Sukanti Singh had also echoed similar views. “My son is not able to cope with the Hostel atmosphere. He is complaining about the food and the training. He wants to improve his performance. But the Hostel authorities and the Sports department are not serious about his future. If someone is willing to take charge of my son, I will definitely allow him,” she had said then.
Notably, Budhia had come to the limelight after he set a new Limca record by successfully running a gruelling marathon from Puri to Bhubaneswar covering 65 km in seven hours flat in May, 2006 at the tender age of four.
But trouble started after the Child Welfare Committee, Khurda levelled allegations of child exploitation against Budhia’s mentor and coach Biranchi Das. To make matters worse, Badagada police later took Budhia for a health check-up the report of which was placed before the Orissa High Court. The court, after going through the report, observed that considering his age and health, Budhia cannot run marathons henceforth.