50 Years After Iconic Image, Peter Norman To Become The Ultimate Bronzed Aussie
Peter Norman is already an immortal figure in Australian and world sport.
Norman, who died in 2006, was the Australian runner who won 200m silver at the Mexico City 1968 Olympics and stood on the podium between Americans John Carlos and Tommie Smith while they did the "black power salute".
This was a big moment in sport. Perhaps the biggest.
No political protests of any sort were permitted then, or are permitted now, at the Olympics. When the two American runners stood on the podium, shoeless to represent poverty, their black-gloved fists aloft in a gesture associated with the civil rights movement, they knew there'd be trouble.
Indeed, they feared assassination on the podium, and were roundly booed as they exited the stadium. The abuse and death threats continued for many years back on American soil.
The incredible part of the story from an Australian perspective is that Peter Norman made an instant decision to support the cause of the American athletes.
Famously, when he first learned of their plans before the medal ceremony, Norman reportedly said, "I'll stand with you".
Norman also suggested the Americans wear one glove each after John Carlos forgot his, while the Australian decided to join the Americans in wearing the badge of the The Olympic Project for Human Rights -- an organisation formed to protest against racial segregation in the USA and elsewhere.
When Peter Norman woke up on the morning of October 9, 1968, he was a runner aiming for an Olympic medal. By the end of the day, he would be a key figure in the most controversial Olympic moment of all time.
In the eyes of many, that made him a hero. But to sporting authorities, Peter Norman was a villain. He never ran at another Olympics, having been overlooked for selection at the Munich 1972 Olympics despite meeting qualification standards.
It wasn't until 2012, six years after Peter Norman's death, that the Australian Parliament officially apologised for the way Peter Norman had been shunned.
"There's no-one in the nation of Australia that should be honoured, recognised, appreciated more than Peter Norman for his humanitarian concerns, his character, his strength and his willingness to be a sacrificial lamb for justice," John Carlos told the ABC on the occasion of Parliament's apology.
And now, the ultimate accolade.
Fifty years after that famous day, the Victorian government today announced that Norman will be honoured with a statue at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne.
"We’re delighted to honour this legend who led by example on and off the track, inspiring millions to follow in his footsteps," Sports Minister John Eren said.
"Peter Norman stood up when others stood by. He deserves this honour and to be immortalised so his name and legacy live on forever."
Main image: Getty.