1968 Olympics: the Other Man on that Podium

Peter Norman was the other man on the podium when the two black sprinters gave their protest salute.

He deserves to be better known.


Thank you for sharing that. I never even thought about Peter Norman - I didn’t even know his name. The story touched me.

That was my reaction, too, but reading the article, it turns out that Norman was more involved in the protest than just being the third guy on the podium, and that he was blackballed by the Australian Olympic committee for it. It’s a good story about a good man, and deserves to be more widely known.

Did you read the article? What the fuck is wrong with you?

Great story. Thanks for sharing, Peto.

Of course I read the article. And I was alive and old enough to watch and remember the original incident. I simply do not approve of what the two Americans did, and so don’t understand why the Australian should be considered special.

To add something else, it was a lazy OP. Post a link to an article, make a statement without explaining why, and expect us to do the work of figuring out what was meant.

Huh. And here I thought hajario was being unnecessarily harsh with you.

Then why didn’t you say so?

Do you at least see the irony here?

Sure can!

I just didn’t realize that folks on the Dope can’t have differing opinions and still get along.

That’s pretty amazing that they’d stayed in touch all those years.

Of course you can have differing opinions. That’s one of the things those men were fighting for.

But when you disingenuously shit on a thread that was created to honor a man that some people consider heroic, well, that goes beyond having a different opinion and bumps you up to being a jerk.

What an interesting story. Thank you for sharing, Petrobey.

Firstly let me apologise for not coming back on this earlier, but I’m in a different time zone to most of you. When I went to bed last night the thread was slipping off the bottom of the page with only 10 views and no replies, and I was thinking that Peter Norman was going to be ignored yet again. Thanks to those of you who thought the story was of some interest.

Firstly, out of interest, why do you not approve? However, your reasons are irrelevant to my main point.

I thought the article spoke for itself, but if you need it spelled out, fine. The thread title makes it fairly obvious what the article is about. The black power salute at the 1968 Olympics is one of the iconic images of the 20th Century. I was not alive at the time, yet I would instantly recognize both the image itself and references to it such as my thread title.

Until yesterday the white guy at the front of the podium was a blank slate to me. I had also always wondered why the two athletes were saluting with different hands. Peter Norman’s story gives an extra perspective and extra information on an important historical event. It’s what is known as “interesting”. For this reason it “deserves to be better known”. Note that whether you approve of the protest or not is irrelevant.

You have said that you do not approve of the protest. Do I take it therefore that you wish the action to be forgotten? Or perhaps unremembered?

Sorry, but I don’t do that kind of history.

It’s most shameful that this attitude persisted in my country right up until 2000.

In many ways, I too disagree with what the three of them did. On the other hand, it was a product of the times, and I can also see a lot of good in what they did. Even for those who disagree, you’d think the passage of time make would their politicising of the Olympics a bit less of a big deal, in comparison to the (possibly misguided) honour and bravery they showed.

But yeah, not recognising Norman at the Sydney games in 2000 - 32 years later and supposedly in more enlightened times - was a shit act. Cathy Freeman got away with her Aboriginal flag more or less unscathed, didn’t she? I think there needs to be some consistency.

I hadn’t really heard of him until he died. That Smith and Carlos were plainly griefstruck pallbearers made me take notice.

The impression I got from their statements and demeanor at that time was that Norman’s actions were something that gave them heart that their actions were not only for the black community but really for humanity. And that in the furore that followed, that this was an additional and enduring comfort.

Solidarity is a precious thing.

Do the people who didn’t like Carlos and Smith’s harmless protest nonetheless approve of the Nazi salute required of German athletes in 1936? If so why?

I disagree. The OP just made a blanket statement: “He deserves to be better known.” No attempt at explanation. It’s quite reasonable for other posters to ask why the OP is of that opinion. You know, justify your statements, provides reasons, dialogue, that sort of thing.

Well, we’re not in Great Debates, you know, but take a look at my last post if you want reasons.

Look, it’s obvious that my link is going to be about the black power salute at the Olympics. If that’s something you’re not interested in, or would rather have excised from history, then don’t click it.

If you read the accompanying article, these quotes make things very clear:

'The photograph of the two men with their heads bowed, each of them with an arm raised in the air and a fist clothed in a black leather glove, is one of the most striking images of the 20th Century.
Their actions caused havoc at the Games, ensuring the pair were ejected from the US Olympic team. But three men won medals in that race, and the consequences for the third athlete on the podium would be every bit as significant.

It was Norman who, when John Carlos found he’d forgotten his black gloves, suggested the two runners shared Smith’s pair, wearing one each on the podium.

And when, to the crowd’s astonishment, they flung their fists in the air, the Australian joined the protest in his own way, wearing a badge from the Olympic Project for Human Rights that they had given him.’

The article expalins how for this simple gesture against racism (wearing a badge), Norman was never picked again for the Australian Olympic team (despite being ranked 5th in the World), and excluded from the 2000 Olympic Games in Australia.
However he was praised by the US team and when Norman died in 2006, Smith and Carlos acted as Pallbearers.

Amen to that. Carlos attended (and spoke) at our organization’s summer conference in 2006 and I still regret not finding the chance to meet him and shake his hand.