Budhia Awooga Singh is an Indian teen globally famous as the youngest marathon runner in the world. At age 4, he ran 65 kilometers from Bhubaneswar to Puri in 7 hours and 2 minutes and got listed by the 2006 Limca Book of Records as the world’s youngest marathon runner.
The 2011 EMMY nominated HBO & BBC Storyville documentary called Marathon Boy covered Budhia. A Hindi movie called “Budhia Singh: Born to Run” is inspired by his life released on August 5, 2016.
Budhia was born in 2002 in the state of Odisha in India. His father died when he was an infant.
In 2004, his mother sold him to a travelling salesman for INR 800 due to extreme poverty. Budhia was ill-treated by the person and hence his mother asked a local orphanage operator and judo coach Biranchi Das to take Budhia under his wings. Das paid INR 800 to the salesman and took Budhia under his care.
The marathon glory at age 4
One fine day Das punished Budhia for being a ‘saucy lad’ and asked him to run around the ground. Das forgot about him and went about his usual routine. When he returned to the ground after 5 hours, he found that Budhia was still running. A subsequent medical checkup found that his heart rate and health was normal despite running continuously for so many hours.
Das then began to train Budhia to run marathons. Budhia had run and finished 48 marathons by the time he was 4 years old.
Budhia Singh graced history when he ran from Bhubaneshwar all the way to Puri, a distance of 65 kilometers in 7 hours and 2 minutes. This was when he was just four years old. At that time, he was called the world’s youngest marathon runner.
Due to his marathon running and numerous records, Budhia became a celebrity and appeared in many TV commercials, which was allegedly financially rewarding for Das. Subsequently, Indian child welfare officials launched an inquiry against Das for child exploitation. Budhia was taken out of Das’ care and moved to a state-run sports hostel in Bhubaneswar.
Biranchi Das – (Budhia Singh’s coach) Real Pictures
The murder of Budhia Singh’s coach
Biranchi Das was shot dead on April 13, 2008 but the reason for the murder had nothing to do with his striving to make Budhia Singh a long distance runner. According to reports, Das had stood up for defending Leslie Tripathi, a model who was being stalked by a goon Raja Acharya. So, he had hired his henchmen to gun down Das at BJB College, Bhubaneshwar. The murder sent shockwaves through the nation. On December 13, 2010, the Bubaneshwar court sentenced Raja Acharya and his accomplices to rigorous life imprisonment.
Budhia Singh – Now
The boy as on 2016, is 14 years old. Though he lives with his mother now, he laments the absence of his coach, Biranchi Das who was a huge source of motivation to him. The biggest promise of India to win Olympics did not get the treatment and coaching that would have suited his inherent talent.
Post the record breaking marathon, Budhia was sent to SAI sports hospital on the orders of Child Welfare Committee to prove him with better education and training. But the facilities were far from good and he felt demotivated in a prison kind of setup. After staying in the hostel for nine years, Budhia went back to his home to live with his mother Sukanti Singh and sister.
Budhia said that at the hostel one teacher would teach 12 students, whereas in other countries, two coaches teach one student. He said that diet was not good, mostly oily and greasy. He says that he is now being asked to run only for sprint events while his interest is long distance marathon.
He says that when he was being trained by Biranchi Das, the coach would make him run at least 6 hours each day. He was fed mutton, chicken and goat liver. The boy was not even allowed to attend the funeral of his coach.
Budhia Singh’s mother is a caretaker in KIIT (Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology) where she gets only Rs.8000 out of which Rs.2000 goes in paying the rent. The family cannot afford the special diet and coaching that is required for the boy. The government has maintained that Budhia Singh should only be trained post 14.
According to the child prodigy, Manoj Bajpayee who plays coach Biranchi Das in the movie ‘Budhia Singh – Born to Run’ has assured him that people will remember him again.
Budhia Singh says that it is his dream to represent India in Olympics and he is hopeful that the film ‘Budhia Singh -Born to Run’ will help him get a good coach and training that would prepare him for Olympics.
Budhia Singh – Born to Run (Cast)
Budhia Singh is played by Mayur Patole. The director Soumendra Padhi had shortlisted 1200 kids before he shortlisted the boy for the role. Budhia Singh’s mother Sukanti is being played by Tillotama Shome, while Manoj Bajpayee essays the role of Biranchi Das.