Peter Norman; Australian Medalist in '68 Games
Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Peter Norman, 64, the Australian sprinter who shared the medals podium with Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos as they gave their black power salutes at the 1968 Olympics, died Oct. 3 of a heart attack in Melbourne.
Mr. Norman won the silver medal in the 200 meters at the Mexico City Summer Games. Smith set a world record in winning the gold medal as 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 a raised, clenched fist. They bowed their heads as the national anthem played.
Mr. 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," he said last year.
Smith, Carlos and Mr. Norman drew criticism and threats for their actions, gestures that came after the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy that year.
"I was happy to identify with [Smith] and the principles he believed in," Mr. Norman said later.
Reached yesterday in Georgia, the 62-year-old Smith said Mr. 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. "He was a man of solid beliefs -- that's how I will remember Peter. He was a humanitarian and a man of his word."
Last year, Mr. Norman was reunited with Smith and Carlos at San Jose State University for the unveiling of a statue commemorating the 1968 protest.
Smith said he talked infrequently with Mr. Norman over the years, but they reconnected last year at Smith's home in Los Angeles before the ceremony for the statue.
Mr. Norman was a five-time Australian champion in the 200 meters, and his time of 20.06 seconds in Mexico City still stands as the national record.