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Aussies wake up to wronged hero


An Australian athlete who supported the famous Black Power salute of two Americans at the 1968 Mexico Olympics was on Monday the subject of a parliamentary motion that he be given an apology for how he was treated. Peter Norman was the silver medallist in the 200m at Mexico City, and stood on the dais alongside United States athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who both put a black-gloved fist in the air in a civil rights protest.


Norman, who died of a heart attack in 2006, backed their gesture and wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in support.


Apology debate

Lawmaker Andrew Leigh said on his website that parliament would debate his motion to apologise posthumously to Norman “whose courageous stance for racial equality got him blocked from competing in subsequent Olympics”.


The motion apologises “for the wrong done by Australia in failing to send him to the 1972 Munich Olympics, despite repeatedly qualifying; and belatedly recognises the powerful role that Peter Norman played in furthering racial equality”.


Leigh, who has the support of Norman’s family, said while the selectors for the 1972 Games had passed away, he did not think Australia “did the right thing by him”.


“I don’t think we gave recognition to somebody who’d done so much to stand for racial equality,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.


Norman ran a time of 20.06 seconds in Mexico, and afterwards when the two American athletes said they were going to give the Black Power salute on the podium, said: “I’ll stand with you.” The Australian Olympic Committee rejected the suggestion that Norman was “punished” for his role in the powerful gesture.


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