The third man on the podium

» Posted on Jan 26, 2012 in Blog, Chapter IV: Politics + Diplomacy

The podium salute by Smith, Carlos and Norman at the Mexico City 1968 Games is legendary in Olympic history. There is comparatively little written about the third man on the podium, Peter Norman, but in 2008 a film was made by his nephew. Here’s a trailer,followed by Peter Norman’s wikipedia entry.

Peter Norman
Personal information
Full name Peter George Norman
Born 15 June 1942
Coburg, a suburb of Melbourne in Victoria
Died 3 October 2006(2006-10-03) (aged 64)
Melbourne
Sport
Country  Australia
Event(s) Sprinter

Peter George Norman (15 June 1942 – 3 October 2006) was an Australian track athlete best known for winning the silver medal in the 200 metres at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. His time of 20.06 seconds still stands as the Australian 200 metres record.[1] He was a five-time Australian 200m champion.[2] He is also known for his support of John Carlos and Tommie Smith when they made their famous gesture at the 1968 Olympics medal ceremony.[3]

Life

Peter Norman grew up in a devout Salvation Army family[4] living in Coburg, a suburb of Melbourne in Victoria, and was educated at The Southport School. Initially an apprentice butcher, Norman later became a teacher, and worked for the Victorian Department of Sport and Recreation towards the end of his life.[5]

Norman was conflicted with some aspects of Salvation Army beliefs including competing on the Sabbath.[6]

Career

Before the 1968 Olympics Norman was a trainer for West Brunswick Australian rules football club as a way of keeping fit over winter during the athletic circuit's off season. After 1968 he played 67 games for West Brunswick between 1972 and 1977 before coaching an under 19 team in 1978.

Norman kept running, but in 1985 contracted gangrene after tearing his Achilles Tendon during a charity race, which nearly led to his leg being amputated. Depression, heavy drinking and pain killer addiction followed.[7]

1968 Summer Olympics

The Men's 200 metres at the 1968 Olympics started on 15 October and finished on 16 October; Norman won his heat in a time of 20:17 seconds which was briefly an Olympic record.[8] He won his quarter final and was second in the semi.

On the morning of 16 October, U.S.A. athlete Tommie Smith won the 200 metre final with a world-record time of 19:83 seconds.[9] Norman finished second with a time of 20:06, and the U.S.A's John Carlos was in third place in 20:10. Norman's time was an Australian record that still stands.

After the race, the three athletes went to the medal podium for their medals to be presented by David Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter. On the podium, during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner", Smith and Carlos famously joined in a Black Power salute.

Norman wore a badge on the podium in support of the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR). After the final, Carlos and Smith had told Norman what they were planning to do during the ceremony. As Martin Flanagan wrote; "They asked Norman if he believed in human rights. He said he did. They asked him if he believed in God. Norman, who came from a Salvation Army background, said he believed strongly in God. We knew that what we were going to do was far greater than any athletic feat. He said, 'I'll stand with you'." Carlos said he expected to see fear in Norman's eyes. He didn't; I saw love."[10] On the way out to the medal ceremony, Norman saw the OPHR badge being worn by Paul Hoffman, a white member of the US Rowing Team, and asked him if he could wear it.[11] It was Norman who suggested that Smith and Carlos share the black gloves used in their salute, after Carlos left his pair in the Olympic Village.[3] This is the reason for Smith raising his right fist, while Carlos raised his left.

Australia's Olympic authorities reprimanded him for his gesture and the Australian media ostracised him.[12] Despite Norman running qualifying times for the 100m five times and 200m 13 times during 1971/72, the Australian Olympic track team did not send him, or any other male sprinters, to the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, the first modern Olympics since 1896 where no Australian sprinters participated.[11]

2000 Summer Olympics and 2012 Parliamentary apology debate

Australian organising authorities overlooked Norman as being involved in any way with the 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney; he was however eventually part of the event after being invited by the United States when they heard that his own country had failed to do so.[13] On 17 October 2003 San Jose State University unveiled a statue commemorating the 1968 Olympic protest; Norman was not included as part of the statue itself—his empty podium spot intended for others viewing the statue to "take a stand"—but was invited to deliver a speech at the ceremony.[5]

In August 2012, the federal parliament debated a motion to provide an apology to Norman.[14][15][16]

On 11 October 2012 the Australian Parliament passed the wording of an official apology that read:

15 PETER NORMAN

The order of the day having been read for the resumption of the debate on the motion of Dr Leigh— That this House:

(1) recognises the extraordinary athletic achievements of the late Peter Norman, who won the silver
medal in the 200 metres sprint running event at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, in a time of 20.06
seconds, which still stands as the Australian record;
(2) 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;
(3) apologises to Peter Norman for the wrong done by Australia in failing to send him to the 1972
Munich Olympics, despite repeatedly qualifying; and
(4) belatedly recognises the powerful role that Peter Norman played in furthering racial equality—
Debate resumed by Dr Leigh who moved, by leave, as an amendment—Omit paragraph (3), substitute:
(3) apologises to Peter Norman for the treatment he received upon his return to Australia, and the
failure to fully recognise his inspirational role before his untimely death in 2006; and
Debate continued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and passed.
Question—That the motion, as amended, be agreed to—put and passed.
-- Parliament of Australia [17]

Death and honour

Three Proud People mural in Newtown.

Norman died of a heart attack on 3 October 2006 in Melbourne at the age of 64.[11]US Track and Field Federation proclaimed 9 October 2006, the date of his funeral, as Peter Norman Day. Thirty-eight years after the three made history, both Smith and Carlos gave eulogies and were pallbearers at Norman's funeral.[5]

In a 2012 interview, Carlos said:[18]

There's no-one in the nation of Australia that should be honoured, recognised, appreciated more than Peter Norman for his humanitarian concerns, his character, his strength and his willingness to be a sacrificial lamb for justice.

Legacy

His nephew Matt Norman directed and produced the cinema-released documentary Salute (2008) about the three runners through Paramount Pictures and Transmission Films. Paul Byrnes in his Sydney Morning Herald review of Salute says that the film makes it clear why Norman stood with the other two athletes. Byrnes writes, "He was a devout Christian, raised in the Salvation Army [and] believed passionately in equality for all, regardless of colour, creed or religion - the Olympic code".[19]

An airbrush mural of the trio on podium was painted in 2000 in the inner-city suburb of Newtown in Sydney.[A 1] Silvio Offria, who allowed an artist known only as "Donald" to paint the mural on his house in Leamington Lane, said Norman came to see the mural, "He came and had his photo taken, he was very happy."[20] The monochrome tribute, captioned "THREE PROUD PEOPLE MEXICO 68," was under threat of demolition in 2010 to make way for a rail tunnel[20] but is now listed as an item of heritage significance.[21]

Annotations

  1. ^ 39 Pine Street, Newtown, New South Wales, Australia

Bibliography

Notes
  1. ^ Carlson 2006
  2. ^ Associated Press 2006
  3. ^ a b Frost 2008
  4. ^ Hurst, Mike (8 Oct 2006). "Peter Norman's Olympic statement". Courier Mail. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Hawker 2008
  6. ^ Bentley, Peter (18 August 2008). "Salute - the Christian Connection". Confessing Congregations. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Johnstone & Norman 2008
  8. ^ Irwin 2012
  9. ^ New Scientist 1981, p. 285
  10. ^ Flanagan 2006
  11. ^ a b c Hurst 2006
  12. ^ Lucas 2013
  13. ^ Schembri 2008
  14. ^ The Daily Telegraph 2012
  15. ^ Australian Associated Press 2012
  16. ^ Whiteman 2012
  17. ^ Parliament of Australia 2012, p. 1865
  18. ^ Carlos & Eastley 2012
  19. ^ Byrnes, Paul (17 July 2008). "Salute". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  20. ^ a b Tovey 2010
  21. ^ City of Sydney 2010, p. 27
References

External links

Persondata
Name Norman, Peter
Alternative names
Short description Australian sprinter
Date of birth 15 June 1942
Place of birth Melbourne, Australia
Date of death 3 October 2006
Place of death Melbourne, Australia
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Norman

 

 

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