Norris Pritam: A YMCA story of sports and inspiration

Longtime New Delhi YMCA member releases book on Olympic champion

Author Norris Pritam has been involved with the New Delhi YMCA since the 1970s and has covered sports as a reporter and author for decades. He recently released his book, “The Neeraj Chopra Story”, telling the story of the first track and field athlete to win a gold medal for India at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2021; it is available on Amazon.com as of January. Though Norris has covered six Olympic Games, beginning in 1996, he missed the one where history was made – further inspiring him to chart the athlete’s rise to stardom.  

 

Q: How did you first become involved with the YMCA?

A: My journey with the New Delhi YMCA started in 1971 when I was a competitive long-distance runner. That year, I served on the organising committee for the first YMCA New Delhi Track Meet, and that’s how I first learned of the YMCA Movement. 

However, it wasn’t until 1997, while working as a sports correspondent, that I officially joined, thanks to Denzil Keelor, then the President of YMCA New Delhi. Since then, I’ve been deeply involved. I’ve served two terms as Vice President, chaired various committees, and organised numerous sporting events, festivals, and community programmes.

 

YMCA Story
The Neeraj Chopra Story
Q: What inspired you to write about Neeraj Chopra?

A: The idea was fueled by friends and colleagues, combined with Neeraj Chopra’s profound impact on India. His Olympic victory opened emotional floodgates for many, inspiring athletes and young people across India. Writing about him was the perfect way to channel my emotions and celebrate his achievement.

 

Q: What did you hope to accomplish with your book?

A: My primary goal was to shift India’s cricket-centric focus to other sports. The book also highlights the struggles and successes of young sportspersons from rural India, who often emerge from humble backgrounds.

 

YMCA Story
Calcutta Book Fair
Q: What are one or two of your favourite YMCA moments?

A: Even before I was a member, organising the New Delhi YMCA Athletics Championship was a cherished memory. More recently, another highlight for me was organising the Inter-Church Sports Festival, which drew more than 400 young people for various sports and activities, including basketball, table tennis, and chess. 

Meeting Patricia Pelton, the first woman President of the World YMCA, at the 2018 World Council in Chang Mai was also a remarkable moment for me.

 

Q: What are your hopes for the YMCA now and in the future?

A: Globally, the YMCA is doing great work. With ongoing global conflict, the YMCA can show a middle path and play a vital role in leading the world towards peace and stability. I hope for a proactive World YMCA with more robust, cleaner, and active regional and local branches, collectively contributing to a more influential global presence.