|Full name||Peter George Norman|
|Born||15 June 1942
Coburg, a suburb of Melbourne in Victoria
|Died||3 October 2006
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. He was a five-time Australian 200m champion. He is also known for his support of John Carlos and Tommie Smith when they made their famous raised-fist gesture at the 1968 Olympics medal ceremony.
Peter Norman grew up in a devout Salvation Army family 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.
Norman was conflicted with some aspects of Salvation Army beliefs including competing on the Sabbath.
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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.
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. 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. 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." 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. 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. 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. 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.
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.
Norman died of a heart attack on 3 October 2006 in Melbourne at the age of 64. 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.
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. 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.
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:
In a 2012 interview, Carlos said:
|“||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.||”|
Peter's 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".
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." The monochrome tribute, captioned "THREE PROUD PEOPLE MEXICO 68," was under threat of demolition in 2010 to make way for a rail tunnel but is now listed as an item of heritage significance.
- 39 Pine Street, Newtown, New South Wales, Australia
- Carlson 2006
- Associated Press 2006
- Frost 2008
- Hurst, Mike (8 Oct 2006). "Peter Norman's Olympic statement". Courier Mail. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
- Hawker 2008
- Bentley, Peter (18 August 2008). "Salute - the Christian Connection". Confessing Congregations. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
- Irwin 2012
- New Scientist 1981, p. 285
- Flanagan 2006
- Hurst 2006
- Johnstone & Norman 2008
- Schembri 2008
- The Daily Telegraph 2012
- Australian Associated Press 2012
- Whiteman 2012
- Parliament of Australia 2012, p. 1865
- Carlos & Eastley 2012
- Byrnes, Paul (17 July 2008). "Salute". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
- Tovey 2010
- City of Sydney 2010, p. 27
- Australian Associated Press (20 August 2012). "Sprinter Norman may get apology". The Age. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Associated Press (4 October 2006). "Peter Norman; Australian Medalist in '68 Games". Washington Post. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Carlos, John; Eastley, Tony (21 August 2012). "John Carlos: No Australian finer than Peter Norman". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Carlson, Michael (5 October 2006). "Unlikely Australian participant in black athletes' Olympic civil rights protest". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- City of Sydney (October 2010). "Heritage Assessment of the Three Proud People mural". City of Sydney. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Flanagan, Martin (10 October 2006). "Tell Your Kids About Peter Norman". The Age. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
- Frost, Caroline (17 October 2008). "The other man on the podium". BBC News. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- Hawker, Phillippa (15 July 2008). "Salute to a champion". The Age. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- Hurst, Mike (8 October 2006). "Peter Norman's Olympic statement". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Irwin, James D. (27 September 2012). "The Humans Raced". The Weeklings. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Johnstone, Damian; Norman, Matt T. (2008). A Race to Remember: The Peter Norman Story (2008 ed.). JoJo Publishing. ISBN 9780980495027. - Total pages: 320
- Lucas, Dean (22 May 2013). "Black Power". Famous Pictures Collection. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- New Scientist (1981). New Scientist Vol. 90, No. 1251. New Scientist (30 April 1981 ed.). ISSN 0262-4079. - Total pages: 64
- Schembri, Jim (17 July 2008). "It's a film worthy not only of our praise, but of our thanks.". The Age. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Parliament of Australia (11 October 2012). "THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS No. 138". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- The Daily Telegraph (20 August 2012). "Olympian apology on agenda". Herald Sun. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Tovey, Josephine (27 July 2010). "Last stand for Newtown's 'three proud people'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Whiteman, Hilary (21 August 2012). "Apology urged for Australian Olympian in 1968 black power protest". CNN. Retrieved 22 October 2013.