- Title: INDIA: Day after record, concern mounts over health of India's marathon kid
- Date: 3rd May 2006
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. ARAVIND MOHANTY, CHILD SPECIALIST AND CHILD RIGHTS ACTIVIST, SAYING: "We want Budhia should be internationally famous but if all of us will allow Budhia then the child die during the birth stage (childhood). The child may not be able to run such a long part. He (should not) be allowed to run without a proper trainer, proper medical attention, proper nutrition and proper social environment. For that reason the mother should be counselled and the state government should take necessary steps (according) to the Child Act that is, a child can not be subjected to a dangerous environment."
- Embargoed: 18th May 2006 05:58
- Location: India
- Country: India
- Topics: People,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA3K1081RI3D7UD6W6RJPOOJC2J
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: As the dust settles on an eventful day in young Budhia's life, voices against the apparent "danger" to his life are growing stronger.
Four-and-a-half-year-old Budhia Singh ran a distance of 65 kilometers (40 miles) in seven hours and two minutes on Tuesday (May 02), creating a record, but falling down exhausted five kilometers short of the distance set for him.
A strained Budhia vomited after the gruelling race, run under an unforgiving sun at a temperature 36.7 degree Celsius (98 degree Fahrenheit).
Child rights activists in Budhia's hometown Bhubaneshwar say it is medically and ethically "unfair" to make a child run such long distances.
"We want Budhia should be internationally famous but if all of us will allow Budhia then the child die during the birth stage (childhood). The child may not be able to run such a long part. He (should not) be allowed to run without a proper trainer, proper medical attention, proper nutrition and proper social environment. For that reason the mother should be counselled and the state government should take necessary steps (according) to the Child Act that is, a child can not be subjected to a dangerous environment," Dr. Aravind Mohanty, a child rights activist who is also a paediatrician, said on Wednesday (May 03).
Child activists have earlier accused Budhia's caretaker, Birachi Das, who has raised Budhia ever since his mother sold him for a paltry sum, of exploiting him.
But Das denies any such allegations and says Budhia is like his son.
"He runs because of his own willingness and not because I am forcing him to do so. Even now, you talk to him, call whomever who want to, psychologists, sociologist, and take his interview. He is so happy. We brought him back to the stadium fifteen minutes after he completed the marathon and he was fine then. If he ever faces any pressure or any problem, I will be the one who is most affected," Das said.
Budhia, who surprisingly does not feel pain or exhaustion, has often said running comes naturally to him. On Wednesday, he was back to his playful self.
"Yesterday, I came back and rested. Today I got up and took a nice bath. I'm feeling fine," Budhia, who has just been enrolled in a kindergarten school, said.
Medical opinion rules against children running for so long as it makes the heart beat unnaturally fast to meet the body's need for extra oxygen. It can even lead to heart and kidney failure.
On Tuesday, Budhia had began his run from the revered Jagannath Temple in eastern Puri city at an unearthly 4.00 am (Indian Standard Time), concluding it an exhaustive seven hours and two minutes later at the headquarters of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Bhubaneshwar, capital city of Orissa state.
Several CRPF personnel, a team of doctors and police had followed Budhia throughout the run.
The cricket-crazy country with a billion-plus population is yet to earn even a bronze medal in individual athletic events at the Olympics but Budhia has raised a glimmer of hope in the minds of many.
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