Sep 22, 2007

Six-Year-Old Wunderkind Budhia Singh, the "Marathon Tot"

Meet Budhia Singh, child prodigy, athletic savant, atypical six-year-old boy. (Isn't he adorable?)
Here's the upshot on Budhia, he:

  • Has been running extreme distances since the age of four
  • Has completed several marathons
  • Has run races as long as 40 miles (65 kilometers)
  • Grew up in a slum in eastern India
  • Has since achieved great fame in India and has appeared in television commercials, bringing wealth to his family
  • Was forced by the government to stop training at the age of five—due to medical concerns
  • His former coach withheld all water until after each race—meaning the boy could go as long as six or seven hours, sometimes in severe heat—with no water. The coach was later arrested on suspicion of torturing him. (Update, July 9, 2008. Budhia Singh's coach was shot dead in a weird, seemingly unrelated twist of events).
  • Controversy swirls around whether or not a child should be allowed to train to such an extent at such an age—is it safe? Will his future health suffer?
  • In any event, he is now training for the Olympics, and has joined an athletic hostel, along with 127 other athletes

You can see it's a complicated situation. I'm not sure about what's best for young Budhia. Despite the controversies, now that the vile coach is out of the picture, it seems like a waste not to let a remarkable talent like Budhia's shine, given proper medical supervision and the best of care. I wish the little man the best and hope to see him in the news more. Keep on truckin', Marathon Tot!

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