Norman - the opposite to Bolt/Blake

Mods feel free to remove as its not strictly about doping.

Given the negative vibes and disillusionment associated with Bolt and his cronies at the Olympics, I thought I would start this thread to show the other side of sprinting, of what CAN be achieved, but that the consequences for people who are completely honorable, who know right from wrong, who think of others, can be far worse than dopers.

The image below is one of the most iconic in Olympic history - the 1968 Mexico Olympics Black Power salute of 200m sprinters gold medallist Tommie Smith and bronze medallist John Carlos. And standing next to them a skinny little white guy :eek:

Is he one of those sports imposters? Like the Indian at the opening ceremony in London? No! He is Australian sprinter Peter Norman.

Norman won silver in the 200m sprint in Mexico City, still an Australian record, but he will be better remembered for standing alongside Smith and Carlos wearing the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge (clearly seen in the photo) while they gave a Black Power salute.

In the age of amateur sports administrators gone mad, Norman was punished for his involvement and blacklisted for the 1972 Munich Games, despite qualifying. In fact they did not select any sprinters. He quit athletics in protest. Norman died in 2006 with Smith and Carlos giving eulogies at his funeral.

Forty years after the disgraceful treatment dished out to Norman by the authorities, the Australian Parliament will debate a motion to recognise Norman's extraordinary athletic achievements and bravery and apologise to him for not sending him to Munich, and belatedly recognises the powerful role that Peter Norman played in furthering racial equality.

Now compare the humanity and humility of Peter Norman with the sprinters of today, and the attitude of the authorities towards him compared to UCI and Lance Armstrong.

 
Jul 19, 2012
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As an aussie, I am embarrassed to say I had never heard of Norman until this popped up in the media this week. Fantastic sporting achievements from a very admirable gentleman.
 
Jun 18, 2012
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I'd heard of him, but wasn't aware he wore the badge. Phenomenal of all three to do something the Olympic movement says you shouldn't do to advance the cause of people who were being repressed.
 
The issue with the badge and the gloves was everyone knew that a protest was in the wind. Smith and Carlos were initially warned they would not be allowed to race. Then told they would be flung out if they tried anything at the medal ceremony.

They both came up to Norman and told him what they were intending, and he said he couldn't wear a glove and salute but he would wear the badge, despite the authorities warning beforehand he could get in trouble.

He made that gesture of solidarity rather than be asked to participate.
 
I knew very well of Smith and Carlos but not of Norman. How sad his story got buried. A very brave gesture from a young man with nothing to gain from his action but to believe he was doing the right thing. Bravo.

And thanks again for the rest of the story sittingbison
 
Oct 30, 2010
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An excellent post. I wasn't aware of Mr Norman's gesture either despite having seen documentaries about Tommie Smith.

Nowadays such quiet gestures would be completely lost in all the showboating that goes on.

'Brave gesture' is an expression which is applied glibbly these days but Smith & Carlos' gesture truly was brave, given the climate of US race politics back then.
 
Jul 19, 2010
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I'd like to see some explanation as to why Norman is the "opposite" of Bolt/Blake. I don't really see what Norman has to do with either Bolt or Blake besides being a 100m medalist, and I don't see how his solidarity with Smith makes him "opposite" to Bolt or Blake.

I find the implicit insinuation itself somewhat suspicious.
 
Jun 18, 2012
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Paco_P said:
I find the implicit insinuation itself somewhat suspicious.
What. :D

Probably because Norman wasn't a drug-taking freak, and was instead using his ability to make a stand on social issues rather than for himself?
 
Paco_P said:
I'd like to see some explanation as to why Norman is the "opposite" of Bolt/Blake. I don't really see what Norman has to do with either Bolt or Blake besides being a 100m medalist, and I don't see how his solidarity with Smith makes him "opposite" to Bolt or Blake.

I find the implicit insinuation itself somewhat suspicious.
Paco mate, if you can't see the differences between Normans actions then and those of the sprinters of today, or between those authorities and the UCI, I don't think I can help you
 

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Jul 28, 2009
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sittingbison said:
Paco mate, if you can't see the differences between Normans actions then and those of the sprinters of today, or between those authorities and the UCI, I don't think I can help you
Olympic athletes were far more amateur (love of the sport) back then. I wonder how much of that is environment based - with coverage and sponsorship missing - and how much was innate to the athletes.

Either way. I feel the key pictures of the athletes - Usain doing his Bolt thing, and Norman showing solidarity with these athletes is diametrically opposed, even if the athletes are strictly not.
 
Jul 19, 2010
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Cavalier said:
What. :D

Probably because Norman wasn't a drug-taking freak, and was instead using his ability to make a stand on social issues rather than for himself?
I see a lot of venom directed in particular at Bolt. Certainly he's suspicious (Blake has been caught before, so there is no argument there) for doping - but so are lots of other athletes who receive a lot less venom - Rudisha is an obvious example - he's the most dominant track and field athlete active right now - but there are not constant attacks on him. Bolt at least is physically different from the typical sprinter in a way that to my mind makes his performance more plausible, not less plausible. Nonetheless, his incredible times, and the fact that so many other 100m finalists are known for sure to dopers, makes me suppose that the most likely thing is that he is a doper. What I don't see, though, is why he should be contrasted with Norman anymore than Michael Phelps, to pick an example at random.

It makes no sense to compare the era of Norman-Smith with that now. Smith came from a world where black men could not vote. Bolt lives in a world where his image is on roadside billboard selling visa cards in Spain. It seems reasonable to celebrate those who had and have the courage to take risks to stand up for what is right, but it seems silly to expect that every famous athlete should dedicate himself to the same. Also, I'd be careful about implicitly lecturing Jamaicans about how they should and should not behave vis-a-vis racism. Few places have a history more directly intertwined with racism and its institutional manifestations.

Bolt strikes me as smart in a business sense. He's trying to make money off of what he does. His "show" generates audience and press coverage. It's no more annoying than Contador's pistol finger, although clearly better conceived from a marketing point of view (Contador's pistolero thing is completely inept marketing). Some of the miscommuication vis-a-vis his (literal and figurative) chest beating, and the negative reaction to it, just reflect cultural and generational differences. I think few members of this forum have much direct contact with Jamaican culture. Compare him with a similarly big time sports presence of the current moment - Ronaldo, Lebron James, etc. - he hardly comes off as the most arrogant or the least friendly.

I'll summarize my comments with this question: Why Bolt and not Phelps?
 
Paco_P said:
...I'll summarize my comments with this question: Why Bolt and not Phelps?
Simple, as you said they are 200m sprinters and Phelps is a swimmer :D

Bolt and Blake had a lot of discussion in the Olympic thread. Both have had "marginal gains" :rolleyes: unheard of in the past 100 years. Only today Blake ran the second fastest time ever recorded 9.69. He is a convicted doper. Same for Gatlin in the 100m final. The USA females just destroyed a 30 year old WR set by the hyper doped East Germans by half a second. We all laughed at the various pics of their physiques (such as Jetter), not only what they are now but how they have changed. These people are held up as the paragons of sport, or even transcending sport.

After Johnson then Jones White and Montgomery there has been a lot of discussion about the IOC will never again allow a Bolt or a Phelps to test positive under any circumstances. It is also about to be demonstrated that UCI not covered up positives of TdF winner Lance, but was involved in a conspiracy to totally corrupt the essence of sport - a fair competition between athletes.

After the disheartening displays we have just been subjected to in London, and the USADA case against Lance, this thread was intended to show the opposite of what sport has become, of conniving and corruption, of the unbridled excesses of corporate power and greed, of "Its all about me".

It shows what we once held dear about sport, but like sport is also a bitter sweet taste. The humanity and humility, the selflessness of an action that Norman did through no other notion than it was the correct thing to do, knowing full well the possible consequences. Then those consequences coming into play through the complete abuse of power by the amateur sports administrators that ruined his career. And finally redemption - 40 years to late for Norman but also never to late for the essences of sport.

So yes, the opposite - of ALL those names, Bolt, Phelps, Lance et al. Selfless vs selfish, graceful vs graceless, humility vs braggadocio, hung out to dry vs protected species, career ruined vs career fostered. And hes not a doper.
 
I didn't bring it up in the OP, but I remember it is mentioned in the doco. In 1968 Mexico was in political and social turmoil :eek: to the extent the Govt was concerned that the Olympics could be used as a catalyst of change. In their infinite wisdom they surrounded the events with snipers, and were going to shoot any protesters.

When they found out about the Black Power protests the USA athletes were threatening, they made it absolutely clear this would not be tolerated. So Smith Carlos and Norman knew that if they went ahead with their protest, there was a very real possibility of getting shot.
 
Aug 19, 2010
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I'm no great fan of Bolt. His self promotion antics get old quickly, but there are still vestages of a true sportsman in him. Immediately after winning the 100 he was being interviewed by a European television reporter about his win. In the middle of the interview the U.S. national anthem started being played for the medal ceremony for Sanya Richards Ross' win in the 400. Bolt stopped the interviewer and had her wait. He turned to face the flags and stood there silently until the anthem was played. When it was finished he continued with the interview. It was a small thing, nothing compared to the events of 1968, but it was a sign of true sportsmanship and respect for the performance of others. I look on it as one of the few moments during the 2012 games (at least of those I saw) that truly represented the Olympic spirit.
 
Jul 19, 2010
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sittingbison said:
So yes, the opposite - of ALL those names, Bolt, Phelps, Lance et al. Selfless vs selfish, graceful vs graceless, humility vs braggadocio, hung out to dry vs protected species, career ruined vs career fostered. And hes not a doper.
This seems to me much more reasonable.

What's changed is the hoopla, the money, the circumstances. Mostly the money involved. It changes the incentives and brings out the worst in people, and perhaps to some extent even selects for the worst people (all other things being equal). However, I don't see that dynamic particularly stronger in the 100m than in the 800m or the 10K or in swimming or in etc... I objected, and I object to the singling out of a particular athlete who is not particularly more suspicious than the vast majority of those around him. Probably on this forum I am in some sense preaching to the choir - since most everybody here suspects most everybody who succeeds in most every sport of doping - but it's precisely this baseline that makes me wonder why certain athletes get more scrutiny than others. In Armstrong's case the reason was clear - his personality alienated anyone and everyone who had any understanding of it (said more simply: he is a gigantic ********). Perhaps Bolt provokes the same reaction in people (in me he does not) and this is all that I am missing. Rafa Nadal seems to have a similar effect.
 
Jul 19, 2010
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sittingbison said:
When they found out about the Black Power protests the USA athletes were threatening, they made it absolutely clear this would not be tolerated. So Smith Carlos and Norman knew that if they went ahead with their protest, there was a very real possibility of getting shot.
Please don't misunderstand my earlier posts in this respect - these three men did something very brave and important - and your post is a nice reminder about the third one, who is usually left out of the story.
 

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