Norman Gilbert Pritchard: India's greatest Olympic Hero


Looking for information on who exactly was Norman Pritchard, winner of two silver medals in 1900 Paris Olympics? Does he belong to India or England? There were many arguments about the domicile of Norman; then why Indian Olympians remember him every four years during Olympics? Let us know more about him through this article.

Norman Gilbert Pritchard and His Olympic History


Born (on 23rd June 1877) and brought up at Calcutta, British India, Norman Pritchard was a great Indian athlete in his time. He has several records in Bengal & India; and the most prominent record he hid is getting 2 silver medals in a single event, one in 200mt sprint and another in the 200mt hurdles in 1900 Paris Olympic. He makes us proud with seventh highest tally of medals for India in that episode. He is the only person of India to keep this record, since after 116 years. He was the proud of every Indians and athletes; then the question is who exactly the man was?

Indian, Anglo-Indian or British


The argument on Norman is basically mentioning his domicile; Indian or Anglo-Indian or British. There are many opinionated documents which declare he is an Indian.

First of all he born and brought up at Kolkata, during British India. He studied in Saint Xavier's' College at Calcutta. He won several athletes records like Bengal 100 yards sprint for 7 consecutive years from 1894 to 1900 and in national 120 yards hurdles, etc. Although he was a sprinter medallist, he is a good football player at that time. During an open football tournament in July 1987, he did hat-trick for Xavier College against the Sovabazar team. He was the secretary to Indian Football Association from 1900 to 1902. He also worked some days in jute mills before going to Paris Olympic. During his travel to Paris, he produced Indian Birth Certificate and Indian Travel Documents for verification. He participated in 100mt sprint, 100mt hurdles (qualified), 200mt sprint (silver) and 200mt hurdles (silver) as an Indian Athlete. All these things about Norman say he was as an Indian.

However, in other hand; he born to a British parent in India but that was British India. In 1900 Olympic, there was no Indian flag; as India first entered in 1928 Olympic. At that time, there was a provision for personal entry, due to which he entered Paris Olympic with British Amateur Athletics Association team.

However I'm happy to see Norman as an Indian in the official website of Olympic. All his participation in 1900 Paris Olympic was marked as Indian flag and country mentioned as India in Olympic.org.

Norman_Pritchard_India_1900_Olympic

Norman, first Indian Hollywood star


The story of Norman Pritchard doesn't ends here. In 1905 he moved to Britain permanently and he was offered to work in London stage as an actor. Later he got offer to work in Hollywood in 1917, National Red Cross Pageant. He worked in 13 movies in his short career of 10 years in Hollywood. Hence, it is being claimed that Norman was the first Indian-born actor entered to Hollywood, not Sabu Dastagir, Mougli & Elephant Boy fame.

Norman settled in Los Angeles, US and acted in movies and in several Broadway theatres there. He died at the age of 52 due to brain disease on 31st October 1929.

Information Credit: "The Complete Book of the Olympics" by David Wallechinsky, Wikipedia and Olympic.org


Comments

Author: Kailash Kumar16 Aug 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 1

Norman Gilbert Pritchard was born on 23.06. 1875 to George Peterson Pritchard and Helen Maynard Pritchard and was baptized on 28th of January 1883. George Peterson Pritchard was an accountant, settled at Alipore, Calcutta (now Kolkata) who lived on the fashionable Robinson Road and worked for the well-known trading house Bird & Co. Pritchard visited England in 1900 and presumably came to know about the forthcoming Olympic celebration after his arrival in England. He was a British colonial, resident in India and was specifically chosen to represent Great Britain at the 1900 Olympic Games.



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