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Apology sought for Olympic father of Echuca family

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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP Federal Member for Murray

Tuesday 21 Aug 2012

Apology sought for Olympic father of Echuca family

Last night a motion was put forward to the Federal Parliament, requesting an apology to the late Peter Norman, an Australian Silver Medallist at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games.

Peter Norman competed in the 200 metre men’s final, running a very fast 20.06. That time remains an Australian record today.

Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone says “The race became infamous when the trio of placegetters stood on the dais to collect their medals.”

Gold medallist Tommie Smith and Bronze Medalist John Carlos, both African Americans, apparently asked Peter Norman if he would be embarrassed if they gave a black power salute on the dais. His response was to join them by wearing an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge.

The reaction was immediate. They were booed by a large number of the crowd as they left the stadium.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos were suspended from the US team and were banned from the Olympic Village. When they arrived home, they received death threats.

The Australian media called for Peter Norman to be punished for his part in the affair, but Norman’s team manager refused to respond.

Peter Norman was not included in the 1972 Olympics, despite apparently running qualifying times. The Olympic Federation claimed he had an injured knee. It wasn’t until 32 years later that he participated in another Olympic Games. He was invited by the US Olympic Team to the 2,000 Sydney Olympics.

The movie, ‘Salute’ and a subsequent book ‘A race to remember’ has reminded Australians of the episode so many years ago. There are now calls for an apology from the Australian Parliament, the Olympic Organisation and the Australian Athletics Association.

“Norman married Ruth in 1964” Sharman Stone said. “They had three children before the pair went their separate ways. Ruth, her three children and six grandchildren, live in Echuca.

“Reminding Australians of the brave stand taken by Peter Norman is timely. It is often the small gestures that help to bring about real changes in attitude” Dr Stone said.

Media enquiries, Graham Munson: 0417 148 110.