The Peter Norman Story

Andrew Webster, Matt Norman

The Peter Norman Story
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The Peter Norman Story

Andrew Webster, Matt Norman

Peter Norman is the ‘third man’ in one of the most powerful and influential photos of all time.

Peter is in the photo because he won a silver medal at the 1968 Mexico Olympics after running 200 metres in 20.06 seconds, a time that would have won Peter gold at every Games other until 1984. Today, 50 years on, it is still the Australian record.

But Peter Norman is a hero to millions today not for the race or the record, but for what he did next.

Hearing of US medallists John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s plans to protest against inequality with a ‘black power’ salute on the dais, Peter pinned on an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge as John and Tommie put on a black glove each and said: ‘I’ll stand with you.’

That act of solidarity cost Peter Norman everything: career, reputation, livelihood and health. But it secured a unique friendship - and a legend that grows ever more powerful.

All three men lived in virtual exile after that moment in 1968. Peter was left out of future Olympic squads and wasn’t even invited to Sydney’s 2000 Olympics.

When Peter died suddenly in 2006, John Carlos eulogised him as ‘a man who believed right could never be wrong… Go and tell your kids the story of Peter Norman.’

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