The Silent Salute

Salute.jpgIt’s one of the most powerful images of our time.

The photo shows Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the gold and bronze medalists in the men’s 200 metre race at the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympic Games, taking their places on the podium for the medal ceremony barefooted and wearing civil rights badges. Both men lowered their heads and each defiantly raised a black gloved fist as the Star Spangled Banner was played. Both of them were members of the Olympic Project for Human Rights.

What isn’t as well recognised is that Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter who came second in the 200 metres race, also wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge at the games and on the podium to show support for the American sprinters.

Salute is a a journey back to the 1960’s and beyond, to tell the real story behind what has now become one of the most famous Olympic moments in history. The writer, producer and director for the film is Matt Norman, Peter Norman’s nephew.

On the film’s official website we read,

As the release of this film nears and the world protests against China’s civil and human rights atrocities leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a new generation needs to see how the Olympic games has been part of World politics in the past.

“Salute” has become even more important to showcase to the World that even after 40 years since the Mexico City Olympic games in 1968 we have still learnt NOTHING.

This should be a lesson as this generation watch history repeat itself.

Salute the movie, for the first time, tells the true story of what happened in 1968 by all three athletes Tommie Smith, John Carlos and more importantly the late Peter Norman.

I had the distinct pleasure of speaking to Matt Norman about his film during my radio programme on 98.5 Sonshine FM this morning. Matt talked about his passion to see his uncle recognised for his part in that historic moment. He talked of a man who was committed to doing what was right, even though he knew it would come at a cost and that he was putting himself at risk.

If you’d like to hear more about Peter Norman’s remarkable story, click play on the audio player at the bottom of this post and hear my interview with Matt Norman.

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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1 Comment

  • As the film’s website implies, on the eve of another Olympics… I wonder how much has changed?

    I wonder if an Australian athlete wore a black arm band and said it was for the human rights abuses in Tibet. I wonder what would happen to them?

    Would they even make it out alive from the host country of this year’s Olympics? Would they be forever excluded from their sport…?

    What if they used it to raise other issues: Myanmar, Magarbe, Iraq…?
    What if they raised Australian issues: indigenous issues, politics, abuse?

    Great point and thanks for the posting.

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