Salute (PG)


Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The image defines the Mexico Olympics of 1968. Two black American sprinters, heads bowed on the medallists' podium, hold up a gloved fist in salute.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos would pay dearly for that gesture of solidarity: they were dropped from the team and banned from the Olympics for life.

The silver medallist, a mild-mannered Australian, Peter Norman, supported Smith and Carlos by wearing a human-rights badge and would also face punishment.

Australia ostracised him and thus took away his chance of competing at the Munich Olympics in 1972. The story is a moving one, though not flawlessly told by Norman's nephew, Matt.

He highlights the surrounding furore very well – the pre-Games massacre of Mexican students, the racism of IOC President Avery Brundage – but undermines the rest with a pious reverence.