Posthumous apology for shunned Olympic sprinter


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The Independent Online

It is one of the 20th century's most powerful images: African-Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in a "black power" salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

The incident, which took place during the 200m medal ceremony, caused an uproar. Smith and Carlos were sent home and received death threats. Their reputations were rehabilitated within a decade, but Peter Norman, the Australian silver medallist, who wore a badge supporting their protest, remained shunned by the his country's sporting establishment. At the Sydney Games in 2000, he was the only home-grown Olympian not invited to perform a lap of honour.

Last night, belatedly, Australia was set to make amends, with parliament expected to apologise for the way Norman was treated. But he was not there to hear it; he died of a heart attack in 2006, aged 64. The MPs were due to support a motion recognising Norman's "extraordinary athletic achievements" and his role in "furthering racial equality".

Yet the Australian Olympic Committee is keeping its distance. It declined to support the motion, claiming it was "incorrect" that Norman was punished for his part in the protest.