Norman Pritchard – ‘The Pioneer’

Norman Pritchard

The enigma around Normal Pritchard adds further to the mystique of the man who was born in Alipore, Calcutta, spent some years in jute plantations in Assam, but on a holiday in England decided to participate in the 1900 Olympics in Paris and won two silver medals in 200m sprint and 200m hurdles. He returned to India but permanently moved to England in 1905. Later, he shifted to the US to make a mark in Hollywood and acted in quite a few films there, taking a new name as Norman Trevor.

A man with two names in one lifetime is uncommon in athletics, but Pritchard is celebrated by many as the first Indian to win an Olympic medal.   Dr Otto Peltzer, the renowned German coach and athlete was among the first to remind us about Pritchard’s unique achievement of winning two silver medals in the Olympics. Peltzer said, “Indians should be proud of the fact that Norman Pritchard of India was the first from Asia to win medals in the Paris Olympics in 1900. That was a splendid beginning…a magnificent start for Asia.”

It took another 28 years for other Asian athletes to achieve success in the Olympics. This time the honour was concerned by the Japanese dup of Kinue Hitomi and Miki Oda. Pritchard’s contribution is unique and unforgettable – he opened the flood gates for Asian athletes to compete on equal terms with the best athletes of the times.

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