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“Acknowledges the bravery of Peter Norman in donning an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on the podium, in solidarity with African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who gave the ‘black power’ salute”.
“Apologises to Peter Norman for the wrong done by Australia in failing to send him to the 1972 Munich Olympics, despite repeatedly qualifying; and belatedly recognises the powerful role that Peter Norman played in furthering racial equality”.
I always saw the photo as a powerful image of two barefoot black men, with their heads bowed, their black-gloved fists in the air while the US National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” played.
It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, and it certainly deceived me for a long time.
With their image restored they collaborated with the American team of Athletics, and a statue of them was erected at the San Jose State University. His absence from the podium step seems an epitaph of a hero that no one ever noticed.
A forgotten athlete, deleted from history, even in Australia, his own country.
A pardon that would have allowed him to find a stable job through the Australian Olympic Committee and be part of the organization of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
It has been said that sharing my silver medal with that incident on the victory dais detracted from my performance. I have to confess, I was rather proud to be part of it”.
It was a strong symbolic gesture – taking a stand for African American civil rights in a year of tragedies that included the death of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. For this reason I never really paid attention to the other man, white, like me, motionless on the second step of the medal podium.
I considered him a random presence, an extra in Carlos and Smith’s moment, or a kind of intruder.
Norman was an unknown sprinter, who seemed to just be having a good couple of heats.
John Carlos, years later, said that he was asked what happened to the small white guy – standing at 5’6”tall, and running as fast as him and Smith, both taller than 6’2”.
Four years later at the 1972 Summer Olympics that took place in Munich, Germany, Norman wasn’t part of the Australian sprinters team, despite having run qualifying times for the 200 meters thirteen times and the 100 meters five times.