Peter Norman – a real Olympic hero

Norman

Listening to Five Live tonight and was reminded what a hero this guy, Peter Norman was. He was the white Aussie who finished 2nd in the 200 metres in the Mexico Olympics in 1968.

On the podium the black Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave the Black Power raised glove fist salute to highlight the near Apartheid that existed in some parts of the US. Norman was a very decent human being who wanted to show solidarity with Smith and Carlos so at the medal ceremony he wore a badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights which Smith and Carlos passionately believed in.

Smith and Carlos were treated terribly by the US Olympic team and sent home in apparent disgrace. However as the decade went by Smith and Carlos became seen as heroes who committed a brave and selfless act. Carlos in particular is a wonderfully articulate advocate of human rights.

As for Norman, by showing his support he was ostracised by Australian Athletics and pilliored by the media. Even though he qualified for the Munich Olympics in 1972 the authorities wouldn’t let him run. When the Olympics came to Sydney, his home town, in 2000 he wasn’t celebrated or even acknowledged.

Shunned by his country’s authorities (all for wearing a badge!) he battled depression and alcohol addiction and died comparitively young. Carlos and Smith didn’t forget his stand though. They were pallbearers at his funeral.

All three are real heroes IMO, but Norman deserves to be remembered in some small way at London 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s