The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Peter Norman’s iconic stand for civil rights at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics is never forgotten with a new statue at Melbourne’s Albert Park.
The image of the Victorian runner standing on the podium with African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos as they give the Black Power salute has become one of history’s most enduring photographs and a symbol of the struggle for civil rights.
Mr Norman won the 200m silver with a time of 20.06s – which remains the Australian record 51 years later – before donning an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge to show solidarity with his competitors.
The act caused a wave of global controversy, with Mr Norman criticised and unofficially sanctioned by officials on his return to Australia.
Despite qualifying for the 1972 Olympics in Munich, he was not selected and never made the Australian Olympic team again.
But over time, his actions have received the recognition and praise they deserve.
Mr Norman remains a revered figure in athletics and human rights communities. On the day of his funeral in Melbourne 13 years ago – 9 October 2006 – the USA Track and Field Federation declared the day would be known as Peter Norman Day. Mr Smith and Mr Carlos were pallbearers.
The Labor Government has invested $100,000 to make the statue a reality, capturing Mr Norman on the dais.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Steve Dimopoulos today joined Mr Norman’s eldest daughter Janita Norman, his former coach and sporting officials to officially unveil the statue, created by sculptor Louis Laumen.
Mr Norman’s contribution to the community continued later in life, including work in senior roles at Sport and Recreation Victoria from 1998 to 2006 where he helped organise key international events such as the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth Youth Games and the World Equestrian Games.
As noted by Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Steve Dimopoulos
“Peter Norman made a stand for humanity 51 years ago and it is a great thing that future generations of Victorians will know his story of strength and decency.”
As noted by Member for Albert Park Martin Foley
“Albert Park is exactly the right place for this monument to a great Melburnian whose actions five decades ago continue to resonate.”
As noted by Athletics Australia chief executive Darren Gocher
“We are not only proud of Peter Norman’s achievement as a champion athlete but as a champion ambassador of our sport and culture.”