John Coates tribute to Peter Norman
3 October 2006
One of Australia’s best track & field athletes, Olympic silver medallist Peter Norman, has died after suffering a heart attack in Victoria. He was 64.
Norman claimed the silver in the 200 metres at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. His time of 20.06 seconds is still an Australian record almost forty years later.
The race gained notoriety when the two American medallists Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave the black power salute during the medal ceremony. Norman supported their protest over racial discrimination wearing a civil rights badge but did not give the salute.
He later told reporters: “I believe in civil rights, every man is born equal and should be treated that way.”
The two Americans were sent home, Norman was cautioned by the Australian Chef de Mission Judy Patching and allowed to remain in Mexico City.
The President of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, said today “Peter was clearly an athlete to whom social justice was important.”
“He was still our fastest 200 metre runner which is a remarkable feat forty years later. It emphasises what a superb athlete he was in one of the most fiercely competitive Olympic events,” Coates said.
“In retirement Peter made an enormous contribution in Victoria across a range of sports, he was always available to help with Olympic Team fundraising appeals and with Olympic education in our schools.”