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RIP: White guy who stood between Carlos and Smith on the podium

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by poindexter, Oct 3, 2006.

  1. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    Peter Norman, runner in middle of black power salute, dies at 64


    12:15 p.m. October 3, 2006

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter who shared the medals podium with Tommie Smith and John Carlos while they gave their black power salutes at the 1968 Olympics, died Tuesday of a heart attack. He was 64.

    Athletics Australia chief executive Danny Corcoran announced his death.

    Norman won the silver medal in the 200 meters at the Mexico City Games. Smith set a world record in winning the gold medal and Carlos took the bronze, and their civil rights protest became a flash point of the Olympics.

    Smith and Carlos stood shoeless, each wearing a black glove on his raised, clenched fist. They bowed their heads while the national anthem played.

    “It wasn't about black or white,” Carlos said Tuesday. “It was just about humanity, faith in God and faith in making it a better world.”

    Norman, a physical education teacher, stood on the front podium during the ceremony. He wore a human rights badge on his shirt in support of the two Americans and their statement against racial discrimination in the United States.

    “It was like a pebble into the middle of a pond, and the ripples are still traveling,” Norman said last year.

    Smith, Carlos and Norman drew criticism and threats for their actions, gestures that came in the aftermath that year of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

    “I was happy to identify with (Smith) and the principles he believed in,” Norman was later quoted as saying.

    Reached Tuesday at home in Georgia, the 62-year-old Smith said Norman's stand was courageous and resonated long after Mexico City.

    “It took inner power to do what he did, inner soul power,” Smith said. “It was a weight that is very heavy, and it is still heavy. ... He was a man of solid beliefs, that's how I will remember Peter – he was a humanitarian and a man of his word.”

    Speaking from his high school counseling job in Palm Springs, Calif., the 61-year-old Carlos said Norman faced his own struggles upon returning to Australia after the Olympics.

    “We had our cross to bear here in the United States,” Carlos said. “Peter had a bigger cross to bear because he didn't have anyone there to help shield him other than his family. He had to go through agony and torment. He took it like a soldier.”

    Corcoran said Norman remained heavily involved in sports. Last year, he was reunited with Smith and Carlos at San Jose State for the unveiling of a statue commemorating the 1968 protest.

    “That was like God letting us have the roundup,” Carlos said. “We had such a family reunion.”

    Corcoran said, “Whilst only Smith and Carlos were recognized in bronze, as alumni of the university, Peter was, as always, happy to have played his role.”

    “Peter will be remembered not only for his success as an athlete and his humanitarian gesture in Mexico City, but also for his service to athletics and the community and for his warmth and friendship.”

    Smith said he talked infrequently with Norman over the years, but they reconnected last year at Smith's home in Los Angeles before the unveiling of the statue, playing music and joking and debating Norman's insistence on being left off the statue.

    “He believed in giving himself unto others – he would much rather remove himself and let others take his place,” Smith said. “I can understand now, since Peter's gone, he left that vacancy so others could stand in his place, and that was quite awesome.”

    Norman was a five-time national champion in the 200 and his time of 20.06 seconds in Mexico City still stands as the Australian record.

    Carlos said he and Norman had stayed in touch by e-mail.

    “His sincerity, his love for humanity, his kind thoughts – those are things that I will remember,” Carlos said. “He was a giving person.”
  2. Columbo

    Columbo Active Member

    Not between.

    Down to the left.
  3. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    Here's the pic.

  4. Columbo

    Columbo Active Member

    I guess that from the side, he may be between them.
  5. D-3 Fan

    D-3 Fan Well-Known Member

    I never knew about the other person in the picture or his story.

    It's stories like his that will never be noticed or thought about. I'm pleased to read that Carlos and Smith admired him for the small gesture of support he gave them.

    RIP Peter Norman and thank you for letting me read about your part in history.
  6. Hed bust

    Hed bust Guest

    It would be interesting to read about how much planning went into that event.
    I'm sure it's notated somewhere, but how much planning did Smith and Carlos do beforehand?
    A lot of people think Rosa Parks just "up and protested" with her refusal to give up her bus seat that day in Montgomery back in the mid-50s. The event was actually planned out weeks or months in advance.
    And so be it. No problem with that here.
    Just interesting to note.
  7. RIP to my best barroom trivia question, and to a decent guy who wore the Olympic Project For Human Rights button when he really didn't have to do so.
    He also ran down Carlos from behind for second place in a helluva race.
  8. terrier

    terrier Well-Known Member

    Forty years later, Norman would've been chum for talk radio. Limbaugh and Hannity would've had us boycotting all Australian products.
    I'll be drinking a Foster's for him this weekend.
  9. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Australians are all right with me. It's the damn Dutch I can't stand.
  10. Good on you, mate.
    Do they serve Fosters at the Dugout?
  11. terrier

    terrier Well-Known Member

    Hope so, now that it's gone a little more uptown and you can actually get drafts, but I'm not sure - haven't been in there since June '04 (the night D-Lowe allegedly took the mound in Yankee Stadium hammered to the gills).
  12. A prominent American sportswriter took the occasion to call them all "thugs" in print.
    His name?
    Brent Musberger.
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