This was one of the most exciting moments in Olympics, it happened in October 16, 1968, in Mexico. In 200 m, the athlete Tommie Smith (US) won gold, Peter Norman (Australia) won silver, and John Carlos (US), bronze. On the podium, Smith and Carlos raised their fists, with black gloves, showing the Black Power salute.
|1968 Olympics Black Power salute, taken from wikipedia|
Smith and Carlos wore black socks and no shoes, to represent black poverty. As curiosity, John Carlos forgot his gloves in the Olympic Village and had to use Smith’s left-handed glove. The three athletes, including Peter Norman, wore an OPHR (Olympic Project for Human Rights) badge. Norman showed in this way his support for the two US athletes.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos were immediately punished by their action. The president of the International Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, suspended Smith and Carlos from the U.S. team (“nasty demonstration against the American flag by negroes”, was his comment about the gesture). It’s good to know that Brundage had been president of the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1936, during the Berlin Olympics, and had made no objections against Nazi salutes, also he spoke with admiration of the progress of Germany under the Hitler regime.
Peter Norman was reprimanded too by Australia’s Olympic authorities. Even, four years later, he wasn’t sent to Munich 1972, Australia Olympic Committee prefered not to send any sprinter by first time since 1896.
Many years later, both U.S. athletes got recognition and awards by their gesture: Courage of Conscience Award from The Peace Abbey, Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, a statue showing them on the metal stand on San Jose State University, etc. Recently John Carlos took part speaking in Ocuppy Wall Street.
The Australian athlete, Peter Norman, died of a heart attack in 2006. Smith and Carlos were pallbearers in his funeral.