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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book tells the story of Peter Norman, the famous salute and the sadness that followed

When Peter Norman died of a heart attack on October 3, 2006, the US Track and Field Federation named the day of his funeral, October 9, as Peter Norman Day. This week Australian politicians  finally recognised Norman's brave stand and officially apologised for the delay.

They were honouring his solidarity with black athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos who gave the Black Power salute during the medal ceremony for the men's 200 metres at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

Howard won the silver medal, making him one of Australia's most successful male sprinters to date (consider how far we were from sprint medals in the London Olympics). When he was told by gold medalist Smith and bronze medalist Carlos that they intended to do during the ceremony, he famously told them, "I'll stand with you."

Martin Flanagan of The Age tells the story in an article printed at the time of Norman's death: "They asked Norman if he believed in human rights. He said he did. They asked him if he believed in God. Norman, who came from a Salvation Army background, said he believed strongly in God. We knew that what we were going to do was far greater than any athletic feat.  He said, 'I'll stand with you'. Carlos said he expected to see fear in Norman's eyes. He didn't. 'I saw love.'"

A Race to Remember: the Peter Norman Story is the biography of "the white Australian who stood tall, proudly wearing, alongside his silver medal, a civil rights badge in support of the silent protest made against racial discrimination," reads the JoJo Publishing website.

JoJo published A Race to Remember in 2003 with one of the authors being Norman's nephew, Matthew, who has also made a cinema-released documentary about his father, Salute.
In a less well-known insight into Peter Norman's life, the book tells of an unhappy personal life after the 1968 Olympics:
Norman's life was never the same after the Olympics.  In ensuing years he paid a heavy price for his fame.  He turned his back on his Salvation Army faith; walked out on his first wife and three young children; remarried and had a second family; suffered an horrendous injury during an ill-fated comeback to athletics aged 42; battled alcohol and prescription drug abuse; and died suddenly aged 64 following quadruple heart surgery.
 A Race to Remember: the Peter Norman Story by Damian Johnstone and Matt Norman is available from JoJo Publishing for $34.99. Purchase here.

Or to purchase from Booktopia, click below:

booktopia.com.au - Australia's #1 online bookstore


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