Norman Pritchard — Norman Gilbert Pritchard, who is also known as Norman Trevor was an Indian Athlete during the British days, and the first Athlete from the nation to participate at the Olympic Games although it is still an issue of debate whether he participated from India or Great Britain, as is being claimed by some Olympic historians of late. Apart from being a successful sportsperson, Norman also worked in Hollywood and Broadway as an actor, and has many firsts to his credit.
He was born on the 23rd of June 1875 at Calcutta, West Bengal to George Peterson Pritchard and Helen Maynard Pritchard, and baptized on 28th of January 1883. George was an accountant, settled at Alipore, Calcutta. Norman studied at St. Xaviers College, Calcutta and used to play Football for his college, and is said to have been the first Indian to score a Hat-Trick in an Open Football Tournament in India, which he did in a match against Sovabazar in the year 1897.
Performance in India
As an Athlete, the best performance by Norman in India was delivered in a 100 yards race on grass in Calcutta on the 18th of February 1988. Although no official world records were maintained those days, Norman’s timing of 9.8 seconds is said to be equal to the same delivered by World class sprinters of the time. For a period of 7 years consecutively from the year 1894 to 1900, he won the Bengal Province 100 yards Sprint title. He also won the 440 yards and 120 yards Hurdles races.
Norman’s excellent prowess at Athletics attracted the interest of British authorities who invited him to take part in an Athletics meet at London in the year 1900.
Participation at Olympics
He participated in 5 races at the Paris Olympic Games 1900, viz. 60m, 100m, 110m Hurdles, 200m and 200m Hurdles, and was the first Indian to participate in Olympic Games. Norman reached the finals of 110m Hurdles, 200m and 200m Hurdles, and couldn’t qualify in the rest two. In the 110m Hurdles final round he got stumbled right in the beginning, and finished at 5th place, but won Silver Medals in the 200m and 200m Hurdles, losing to Walter Tewksbury and Alvin Kraenzlein respectively. Norman was the first Asian to win an Olympic Medal.
Services to Indian Football Association
Between the years 1900 and 1902, Norman served as the Secretary of the Indian Football Association, and permanently moved to England in the year 1905 to trade in Jute.
Career as an Actor
After his relocation to England, Norman was invited by Sir Charles Wyndham, a theater personality to perform a role in his play, The Stronger Sex, in the year 1907. After the play proved to be a good success, Sir Charles advised him to move to the US and take up acting seriously. Following his suggestions, Norman made his debut at Broadway in the US with the play The Elder Son in the year 1914. The next year he made his Silent Movie debut with a movie named After Dark. He acted in 26 plays and 27 movies, his last movie being Tonight at Twelve released in the year 1929.
The Last Moments
Norman had a very sad ending, as he died of a mental disease called ‘brain malady’ at Norwalk, California on the 30th of October 1929.
- First Indian athlete to participate in the Olympic Games.
- Won two silver medals in the 200 meter sprint and 200 meter hurdles in the 1900 Paris Olympic Games.