Author Topic: The other man on the podium (1968 Mexico Olympics)  (Read 9945 times)

Offline Katie77

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Re: The other man on the podium (1968 Mexico Olympics)
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2008, 05:39:32 pm »
Kelda, I honestly have never heard the story of Peter Norman, and cant even remember it being mentioned back in 1968 (but I was only 16 then and may not have taken any notice).

I just asked my hubby if he knew about him, and he did know a little bit, but not the whole story.

Back then, without satellite TV and live news telecasts from overseas, I think us Aussies were a little bit naieve as to the goings on in the black movements in America. To tell you the truth, my vague thoughts on what happened back then when i heard about or read about those black men raising their arms, I thought they were radicals, bad people, who should not have used the Olympics to protest, whatever they were protesting.  I dont ever remember reading that an Australian was there.

At that time the Australian Government was hand in hand with the American government. Our prime minister of the time made the slogan ALL THE WAY WITH LBJ.....we were fighting in the Vietnam War along side Americans.

I am glad that that film documentary has come out, and I hope Australians will now see  The whole event in a more positive way and feel proud of that man Peter Norman for standing up for what he believed in.

I have not seen the documentary or even heard of it, it is not likely to be shown at theatres here in the town I live in, but maybe Kerry or Rob have seen it advertised in Sydney. Hopefully it will be shown on TV, and more Aussies will get to know the story.

I have copied the story you have here in your fiirst post, and intend to email it to all my Aussie friends and ask them to forward it on, so hopefully more Aussies will become aware of what did happen back then.

Thank you for tellling me the story of PETER NORMAN.

I look forward to hearing from Kerry and Rob to see what they knew or read about the events.
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Offline Kelda

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Re: The other man on the podium (1968 Mexico Olympics)
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2008, 05:49:34 pm »
Thanks for replying Sue!

Its intersting that many fo the reals Auzzies hadn';t hear about poor Peter, he got a really raw deal from the Oz olympic committee

I didn'r know about the Ozzies being with USA with regards to the Vietnam American War. It's sad to say but I know little about it.. its not something we covered at school even though I did history to a high level at school.
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Offline Katie77

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Re: The other man on the podium (1968 Mexico Olympics)
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2008, 06:26:45 pm »
Thanks for replying Sue!

Its intersting that many fo the reals Auzzies hadn';t hear about poor Peter, he got a really raw deal from the Oz olympic committee

I didn'r know about the Ozzies being with USA with regards to the Vietnam American War. It's sad to say but I know little about it.. its not something we covered at school even though I did history to a high level at school.


I dont want to lose the topic of this important thread, so I wont elaborate too much......but I am just as amazed that you didn't know that much about the Vietnam War.

It was a huge part of our lives back then, our friends were being drafted or enlisting in the army,  and shipped off to war, and even now, those friends are  in their early sixties and some still feeling the affects it had on them. To think now, that it may be taught as "history" lessons, when it is still something real to people today, is quite amazing.

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Offline Kelda

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Re: The other man on the podium (1968 Mexico Olympics)
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2008, 06:33:02 pm »
I dont want to lose the topic of this important thread, so I wont elaborate too much......but I am just as amazed that you didn't know that much about the Vietnam War.

It was a huge part of our lives back then, our friends were being drafted or enlisting in the army,  and shipped off to war, and even now, those friends are  in their early sixties and some still feeling the affects it had on them. To think now, that it may be taught as "history" lessons, when it is still something real to people today, is quite amazing.

heh, I'm just a baba! Obviously I know the very basics, eg have seen this image plenty of times..




but I didn't know (or at least didn't remeber that the Ozzies were allies - I must do more reading about vietnam.
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Offline Kerry

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Re: The other man on the podium (1968 Mexico Olympics)
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2008, 06:51:56 pm »
but I didn't know (or at least didn't remeber that the Ozzies were allies - I must do more reading about vietnam.

Many beautiful, young Australian boys lost their lives in the wretched Vietnam War. They had no choice in the matter. They were draftees. The had to go, whether they wanted to or not. It was a despicable time in Australian history.    :'(

(I have heard about the documentary, "Salute." Will respond shortly.)
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Offline underdown

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Re: The other man on the podium (1968 Mexico Olympics)
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2008, 07:21:53 pm »
The whole story sounds like more American politics again.
I agree, that the Olympics should not be used as a political platform.
It was very courageous of Peter Norman to support the other two medal winners, and to take a stand with them against the inhumanity towards black Americans, but there was a lot he could have done outside of the Olympics.
I had heard about Peter Norman, as I once knew one of his relatives, but haven't heard of 'Salute'. It seems to be an American film, made by an American studio, with Hollywood actors (I don't know if an American actor played the part of Peter Norman, 'though).
It's sad that Peter Norman was left out of the sculpture, but not surprising.
The war in Vietnam, whilst it was argued by our Government as being in our interests to stop the spread of communism, was very unpopular among many people here, and seen as belonging to America. (And I'd better not mention Iraq, or the current world-wide economic crisis).

Offline Katie77

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Re: The other man on the podium (1968 Mexico Olympics)
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2008, 07:39:14 pm »
Well.......I wasn't expecting that reply from you Rob. But.......I can see you have a strong opinion about it.

Its amazing though, how those shiney arses on the Olympic Committee have revolved though.

Remember Cathy Freeman, running around the Olympic stadium, with both the Australian flag and the Aboriginal flag. The OIC made a hero of her.

Whether we like the Olympics being used for political reasons or not, its gonna happen. The opportunity to get full exposure to billions of people is too much for some people to resist. 

But in some instances it was tragic, as in the Munich games.

Done in a peaceful and non harmful way, my opinion is that they have the right to do it, whether it be at the Olympics or anywhere else they want.
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Offline Kerry

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Re: The other man on the podium (1968 Mexico Olympics)
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2008, 11:03:50 pm »

I remembered recently seeing "Salute" reviewed on the ABCTV program, "At the Movies."

It was reviewed by two of Australia's most respected movie reviewers, Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton.

Margaret gave it a score of 3 out of 5 (standard) and David gave it 2 out of 5 (low), with an overall score of 5 out of 10, which represents a low score. By comparison, both Margaret and David gave Brokeback Mountain 5 out of 5 each = 10 out of 10, with Margaret commenting that she considered BBM to be "a perfect movie."

Here's the "Salute" review transcript from "The Movie Show":

SALUTE

Review by Margaret Pomeranz

A new Australian documentary looks back at an iconic moment in Olympic history that had an impact on the world but, more significantly, on the people involved.

Itís SALUTE, about that famous Black Power salute at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 when American track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the podium to receive their medals for coming first and third in the 200 metre dash. It was a moment when politics, sport and race converged.

The second place getter at the event was the Australian Peter Norman, who in sympathy with his fellow athletes also wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge. All three athletes would be ostracised by their countries for their actions.

The documentary, which was made by Peter Normanís nephew Matt Norman, is fascinating as it delves into the history of that moment. Itís a reminder of how the world was only forty years ago.

And itís shocking how that moment affected the sporting careers of all three. Where the film falters is in its latter half when Matt Norman, in trying to laud his uncle for his courage, loses perspective.

The film becomes repetitive and adulatory, diminishing its impact, but for much of its length it is a fascinating insight into a moment that illuminated the Civil Rights movement in America.

Further comments . . . .

MARGARET: David?

DAVID: I think the problem I have with this film is that there's about 20 minutes worth of really solid, interesting documentary material and the rest is padding. I think the gesture that Peter Norman made in wearing that badge may have been a brave one at the time, but it's kind of almost lost in the process of the much bigger demonstration, of course, made by the two African American finalists.

And the key thing is that, as he says as we saw in those clips, that he was then not allowed to go onto the next Olympic Games after that.

Now, that would have made, to concentrate on that would have perhaps made an interesting film, but this film is so padded. I think you're right. I think Matt Norman is too close to it. I think a more objective point of view would have been better because, as it goes on, it keeps cutting away to irrelevant speeches and more speeches and...

MARGARET: Yeah.

DAVID: You know, you say, "Get to the point," you know.

MARGARET: No. No, that latter part of the documentary is sort of like really hard going. Hard going.

DAVID: It's leaden. It really is leaden.

MARGARET: And it's such a shame because I think there is interesting stuff in there.

DAVID: Yeah.
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Offline Katie77

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Re: The other man on the podium (1968 Mexico Olympics)
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2008, 11:48:44 pm »
Interesting reading that Kerry......

If nothing else, the movie has brought out the story of Peter Norman, and for many Australians, told us a story about someone who does have a place in Olympic and Australian history and deserves to be recognised.

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Offline Kerry

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Re: The other man on the podium (1968 Mexico Olympics)
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2008, 12:13:23 am »

Found the following obituary online:

OBITUARY

PETER NORMAN (15 Jun 1942 - 3 Oct 2006)


Peter Norman, one of Australia's greatest ever male sprinters passed away after suffering a major heart attack. He is best remembered as the man standing quietly on the victory dais at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics as American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos made their now famous 'Black Power' salute protesting the racial inequalities in USA society towards African Americans.

Peter supported their protest by wearing a Human Rights badge during the victory ceremony which brought him censure from 'the powers to be' but nowhere suffering the consequences that Smith and Carlos had to endure. The Olympic 200 metres final was Peter's greatest race as he split the Americans to win silver in 20.06 seconds, a National record that still stands today.

Peter first came to prominence as an athlete when he won the Victorian junior 220 yards title in 1960 in 22.2 seconds. Peter left his original club Collingwood Harriers and joined the East Melbourne Harriers where former quarter-miler Neville Sillitoe had gathered a formidable sprint group which was to dominate sprinting not only in Victoria but also Australia over the next decade or more.

In 1962 Peter was a semi-finalist in the 220 yards in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Perth in 22.03 seconds. However progress was slow after 1963 when injuries hampered his preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Disqualified in the heats of the National 220 yards ended any slim hopes he had for selection.

His determination and training with fellow sprint champions Gary Holdsworth and Greg Lewis saw him make the team for the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica after winning his first National title. Peter was a quarter-finalist in the 100 yards in 10.27 seconds and again semi-finalist in the 220 yards in 21.2 seconds. He anchored the sprint relay team to a bronze medal and also ran a leg of the 4x440 yards final when Gary Eddy was forced to withdraw. The team finished 5th.

Peter won his 3rd successive National 200 title in 1968 and was selected for the Mexico Olympics. He was in brilliant form and ran a personal best 10.3 seconds for the 100 metres and 20.3 seconds for the 200 metres in a pre-meet giving a glimpse of what was to come. He cruised through the heats and quarter-finals winning in 20.23 and 20.44 seconds. He was 2nd behind world record holder John Carlos in his semi-final in 20.22 seconds.

Running from lane 6 in the final Peter was 3rd off the turn but continued his drive to the tape passing Carlos to finish 2nd in 20.06 seconds behind Tommie Smith's new world record of 19.83 seconds. Whilst the rarefied atmosphere of Mexico City helped to produce fast times the performance was extraordinary as Peter was not considered a finals prospect prior to the Games, and his result is still the best ever by an Australian male sprinter in the Olympics. His time would have won him gold in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

The now famous victory ceremony has become immortalised with a 20 foot tall statue erected at San Jose State University where Smith and Carlos were students. It was unveiled in October 2005 with Peter in attendance. It also cemented a life long friendship for the three athletes who have had a number of reunions over the passing years.

In 1969 Peter ran in the inaugural Pacific Conference Games in Tokyo winning the 200 metres in 21.0 seconds and finished 4th in the 100 metres in 10.8 seconds. He was also a member of the winning sprint relay team.

Peter won his 5th consecutive National 200 metres title in 1970 and was selected for the 1970 Edinburgh British Empire and Commonwealth Games where he finished 5th in the 200 metres in 20.86 seconds.

He continued his career to 1972 hoping to make the Munich Olympic team but failed to gain selection after finishing 3rd in the Nationals in Perth. He then retired from top level athletics.

Peter was predominantly a 200 metres runner but did finish 2nd in the National 100 metres in 1969. He avoided the 400 metres as best he could, but loved doing other events on Saturday�s inter-clubs doing high jumps and javelins amongst other events. Peter also loved Australian Rules football and played in his younger days.

Peter was a PE teacher by profession and enjoyed amateur theatre, acting on stage in a number of plays. He was also a TV commentator for the Nine Network at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games. He was also involved in Sports Administration and was active in encouraging young athletes. In 2000 he was awarded the Australia Sports Medal for his contribution to sport. He helped with Olympic team fund raising and Olympic education in schools and was currently working for the Department of Sport and Recreation and was a member of the Salvation Army.

Peter was vocal in his views on Australian athletics, however those who witnessed his presentation to John Steffensen at the Melbourne Cricket Crowd this year, where Peter presented John with a signed photo of the famous victory ceremony after he had heard that John viewed Peter as a hero know that he touched and influenced many athletes over the past 40 years.

Peter had a great sense of humour, was great company and was a generous man who will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

Peter passed away at his home in Williamstown a month after bypass surgery. He is survived by his second wife Jan and their daughters Belinda and Emma, and his first wife Ruth and children Gary, Sandra and Janita.

Paul Jenes
Athletics Australia Statistician
President ATFS (Association of Track and Field Statisticians)
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