Peter Norman’s family to accept Olympic Order of Merit tonight
22 June 2018
AOC: On the eve of World Olympic Day, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) will present the family of the late Olympian Peter Norman an Order of Merit at a special ceremony in Melbourne tonight, Friday June 22nd.
The Order was announced by AOC President John Coates AC earlier this year at the AOC Annual General Meeting on April 28th.
It was awarded posthumously to acknowledge Peter Norman’s support for American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their silent civil rights protest on the medal dais at the 1968 Mexico Olympics as well as his athletic achievements.
Peter’s Australian record for the 200-metre sprint still stands 50 years after he set the mark of 20.06 seconds to pick up the silver medal in Mexico, splitting the American pair.
An Order of Merit is awarded a person who in the opinion of the Executive has achieved remarkable merit in the sporting world, either through personal achievement or contribution to the development of sport.
In awarding a posthumous Order of Merit, AOC President John Coates noted that Peter Norman’s remarkable achievements as an athlete were inevitably dwarfed by his support for the gold and bronze medallists who raised their gloved fists and bowed their heads during the United States National anthem.
Mr Coates says while the recognition is long overdue, tonight’s ceremony will be a poignant moment for both the Olympic movement and the Norman family.
“We have had such wonderful feedback from Peter’s family since this decision was taken. We are delighted we are able to bring them together in his home town to make this presentation," Coates said.
“Peter left us in 2006 but he has a unique place in our sporting history. It was a simple act, standing with those athletes, wearing their badge and telling them he supported them."
Peter Norman’s daughter Janita said the Norman family is immensely proud of the stand taken by her father.
“That pride hasn’t diminished with the passage of time, so to accept this award 50 years on has only added to that feeling," Janita said.
“My father was someone who held strong beliefs and who spoke his mind and yet it’s the image of him standing there silently on the podium that has made such an impact on our lives.
“But we are also grateful that his athletic achievement is recognised. His Australian record still stands and that too means a great deal to us. It won’t stand forever of course, but 50 years is not a bad effort.”
The presentation takes place on the eve of World Olympic Day, Saturday June 23rd. Our Australian Olympians have been visiting schools and participating in community events throughout June to raise awareness and celebrate the spirit of Olympism.