The Australian Olympic Committee has awarded a posthumous Order of Merit to Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter who shared the podium with Tommie Smith and John Carlos when the two Americans raised their fists in a human rights protest at the 1968 Olympics.
Norman, who died in Melbourne in 2006, stood alongside Smith and Carlos during their silent civil rights protest on the 200-meter medal podium in Mexico City.
AOC President John Coates said Saturday that Norman’s achievements as an athlete — his silver-medal winning time of 20.06 seconds at Mexico City remains an Australian record 50 years after he set the mark — were dwarfed by his support for the gold and bronze medalists who raised their gloved fists and bowed their heads during the American national anthem.
“This is an overdue award there is no doubt. The respect for Peter and his actions is still enormous to this day,” Coates said. “He believed in human rights throughout his life. We lost Peter in 2006 but we should never lose sight of his brave stand that day and further as a five-time national champion … his athletic achievement should never be underestimated.”
Coates made the announcement during the AOC’s annual general meeting on Saturday.