Salute

An Australian athlete at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games was part of one of the most powerful moments in the 20th century, and now his nephew has made a documentary about it.

Why is it that we all know how many tinnies David Boon drank between Sydney and London but we don’t know the story of Peter Norman? Hopefully this film will go some way to filling the gap in our collective knowledge and remind us of what a powerful role we can play in the international community.

3 thoughts on “Salute

  1. Well, having been around in 1968 when it happened the images are deeply etched in my mind. It’s almost a pity though that Norman’s salute tends to overshadow his performance in finishing 2nd in that race and splitting those regarded as the two unbeatable sprinters. Raelene Boyle is better known than Norman, and she blew it at the start when she broke twice in Montreal in 76.

  2. Ray’s right; a silver medallist in male track athletics ought to be sung about for years. If it happened in Sydney, there would be a statue of him somewhere and a postage stamp. I guess the reason that Norman isn’t known is because of the stance he took; and so it should be. Standing up for a belief is much more important than a sporting success. Norman sacrificed his sporting legacy for a political message (although from what I’ve read, he didn’t know the full significance of his action at the time and regretted it for a while, particularly when he was overlooked for selection at the next Olympics).

    I think one of the main significance of the actions by the athletes is often overlooked. The raised clenched fist in a black glove, or the black power salute as it was also known, originally signified the superiority of black power i.e. the reverse of white over black discrimination. The fact that the third place getter used the salute when having been beaten by a white guy helped translate the salute to a symbol for equal rights.

    Other great moments forgotten by the Olympics include when the German athlete in ‘36, beaten by Jesse Owens in the long jump, in front of the Fuhrer, went straight up to Owens and shook his hand. In the atmosphere of the 3rd Reich, that was gutsy.

  3. Looking forward to the doco too – an amazing piece of history in Austraian sport that is barely known…

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