Theft Of India’s Olympic Medals- By Ramesh Kharkar
The Sports faculties throughout the nation ; specially the Sports Ministry are enthusiastically preparing for London Olympics. But how many of them knows that this Nation has been robbed of it’s valuable TWO OLYMPIC MEDALS!!
It is shocking story of international theft. The Olympic Medals that were in the name of India for over ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR YEARS have been mischievously transferred in the name of Briton by English Sports Writer in the Official Olympic Record Book published by International Association of Athletic Federations at the time of Athens Olympics 2004. Not only that but publications after that also are recording the Medal winner Norman Pritchard of Briton instead of India. It is wicked conspiracy .Indian authorities viz. Ministry of Sports, External Affairs , Indian Olympic Association have to fight out vehemently for the Honor. Else on the eve of the London Olympics Briton may again include Prichard’s two Silver Medals to their kitty of medals.
-Norman Gilbert Pritchard `was truly colorful personality and great versatile athlete. Born on 23rd June 1875 in Calcutta; with parents Father :George Peterson Pritchard and Mother :Helen Maynard Pritchard .Norman studied at St. Xavier School .At the age of seventeen he went to Assam where his family was having Tea Plantation .From Assam Norman went to Europe and participated in number of Sports Meets. That is where he heard of Paris Olympics and went there to participate. It was only second Olympic and national affiliation system was not developed. Therefore Norman gave his entry in the name of Bengal Presidency Athletic Club of India and the London Athletic Club. Incidentally there were number of Athletes who participated with duel nationality. Austrelian Athletes residing in Briton when won an event maintained their Nationality for Austrelia. From U.S.A. various Universities’ Team came to THE Olympics on their own. But when excelled in a event those Athletes insisted recording as of Americans. Likewise Norman Pritchard must have maintained to be recorded as of INDIA; where he was born and brought-up.
At the Paris Olympic Norman participated in five events.; viz. 60 mts., 100 mts. And 200 mts. Run, 110 mts. And 200 mts. Hurdles. In the 60 mts. Race he did’nt reach Final, in the 100 mts. Run heats Norman’ best time was 11.0 seconds. Even then in following rounds he did not qualify for Final. In the 110 Hurdle he clocked 16.6 seconds, reached to the Final , but could not finish. The grass track was so uneven that many Athletes suffered including Arther Duffy of U.S. who was the greatest Sprinter of his Era. He had clocked 9.6 seconds for 100 yards World Record. In the final of 100metres race at the Olympics Duffy was leading by one yard at the midway of the race and stumbled and fell on the Track. After that Duffy went on to win many years on American Track; but Olympics win is the exception.
On 16th July 1900 the 200 meters Hurdles final was there. In the heats Alvin Kraenzlein of U.S. and Norman were the winners. In the Final Alvin was penalized for foul start, and made tostart from one yard behind. That was then the Rule . As per present rule he would have been disqualified. Even though Alvin overtook Norman on the final straight and won by five yards. Alvin was clocked 25.4 seconds and Norman 26.0 sec. On 22nd July 200 meters run was on 500mts. Round Track. Norman Pritchard came second to Walter Tewksburyof U.S. They were clocked 22.2 sec. and 22.5 sec. Third was Stan Rowley of Australia with time of 22.6 sec. Rowley came third in 100 mtr.race also. Incidentally, Rowley participated in the 5000 meters Relay for Briton and Ireland Team. However, Rowley’s individual wins are credited to Australia .
In Nov 2004 I brought the matter to the notice of Indian Olympic Asson, Offices of the President
Of India, Prime Minister, Sports Minister and also wrote to the International Olympic Committee and International Association of Athletic Federations. However, as matter of practice International Organisations do not entertain correspondence of an individual on policy matters. Whereas, inquiries, objections on technical matters are promptly replied. As on FOUR OCCASIONS I pointed out corrections in the interationally published Annuals of I.A.A.Federation and Annual of the Association of Track & Field Statisticians; international body having headquarters in United States. Indian Authorities did not took any interest in such matter of National Prestige. When I contacted Times of India Mr.Stanly D’Souza covered nice article on the front page; comparing the loss with Kohinoor Diamond
Recent TOI article explain that priceless artifacts taken away by British rule such as Kohinoor, Sultanganj Buddha and many more are hard to get back. It is not only India’s case but countries like Mexico, Peru, China, Guatemala, Bolivia, Cyprus are taking up the matter with UNESCO.
It won’t be the case with Olympic Medals but the Sports Ministry, The Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Olympic Association have to be moved urgently. And it is not possible individually. Hence, now I am appealing Corporate Industrial Houses .
If not attended urgently ;the Briton may venture to claim the Hockey Gold medals won prior to independence viz. 1928, 1932 and 1936 claiming of British colony !!
Thane Bhushan, Kreedacharya, Athletic Fedn. India, Member-Asson.of Track & Field Statisticians, U.S.A. (from 1981).
Athleic Federation of India, I.A.A.F., Member-Asson.of Track & Field Statisticians ,U.S.A.(from 1981)