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Coach fights to get 4-year-old running again

/ Source: The Associated Press

The coach of a 4-year-old Indian boy who recently attempted a 70-kilometer (43-mile) marathon has filed a court application seeking to lift a ban that prevents his young protégé from running.

Biranchi Das also challenged Wednesday the results of medical tests conducted on 4-year-old Budhia Singh, which indicated the boy's health had suffered after he ran the marathon last week.

"Who is the government to interfere in his career?" Das told reporters in Orissa state's capital Bhubaneswar after filing the appeal.

In an effort to gain a place in local record books, the boy attempted the marathon on May 2. But doctors stopped him after 65 kilometers (40 miles) when he showed signs of extreme exhaustion. By that time he had run for more than seven hours in Orissa's hot, humid climate.

India's National Human Rights Commission ordered the Orissa government to conduct health checks on the boy and investigate those who organized the run.

A team of doctors found Singh was undernourished, anemic and under cardiological stress, and the state government subsequently imposed a ban on the boy's running until he is older.

Das said regardless of the ban, Singh would continue to participate in marathons and the government couldn't prevent him from running.

Singh's father died and his mother, unable to support him, was about to sell him to another villager for 800 rupees (US$18, euro15) two years ago when he was rescued by the coach.

"Where were ... government officials when Budhia was being sold by his poverty-stricken mother?" Das said.

Basanti Singh, the boy's mother, also objected to the ban. "The government cannot take a decision on my son's future," she said.