Bhubaneswar: The Sports and Youth Affairs department has no clue on the whereabouts of Budhia Singh, the boy wonder who had raised bright hopes for Odisha and the country in the marathon event ten years ago.
Though the authorities of the Sports Hostel here, where Budhia was lodged for the last several years, have sent letters and followed it up with visits to his home asking him to return, there has been no reply from him till date.
Talking to OTV today, Rupanwita Panda, Sports Hostel in-charge and Budhia’s coach, said Budhia, who had left the hostel during summer vacation in May, had been asked to return to join the coaching camp on June 4.
“When he did not return, I wrote a letter to him on June 23 asking him to return to the Sports Hostel within a week. As I did not get a reply of my letter which I had sent through post, I wrote another letter and sent four coaches of the Sports Hostel to hand over the letter to Budhia at his house at Salia Sahi. But the coaches did not find Budhia in his house while his sister gave a letter to the coach saying Budhia has gone to the village and will return within four days. But till date, he has not reported to me,” she said.
During a visit to Salia Sahi today, the OTV team met Pranakrushna Khatua, Budhia's uncle, to find his whereabouts.
“Budhia had come to his house during summer vacation after the annual examination. I had seen him at his house just once. I have not seen him since then. I am not able to trace his whereabouts till date. He is neither in the Sports Hostel and nor is he going to school. I feel he may have gone in search of work with his mother, who is also not seen since last two months,” Khatua informed.
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. Besides, there is no coach who can properly train me 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 came 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.