THE Australian Olympic Committee yesterday said it would not support a parliamentary motion to recognise the life of 1968 Olympian Peter Norman, who was blacklisted for his support of a civil rites protest.
Norman, who won silver in the 200-metres sprint at the Mexico City Olympics, wore a human rites badge during the medal ceremony in which African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave a black power salute.
Yesterday The Courier reported that Mr Norman’s Learmonth-based brother, Laurie Norman, had travelled to Canberra to be present for debate on a bill recognising his life and apologising for harsh treatment he received on his return to Australia.
While his Australian record time of 20.06 seconds still stands, Mr Norman was not selected for later Olympic or Commonwealth Games and was shut out of the athletics community.
The bill was debated in Parliament last night, with Laurie Norman and his 91-year-old mother Thelma watching on.
An AOC spokesman said the organisation didn’t see any need for the bill as it never had any problem with Mr Norman.
“It has been suggested Peter Norman was punished by the AOC for his role in the black power salute given by two American athletes ... This is incorrect,’’ the spokesperson said.
He said AOC chef de mission Julius Patching had cautioned Mr Norman at the time, telling him to be careful about his public statements in the limelight of Olympic sport.
Ballarat MP Catherine King told the House of Representatives yesterday that Peter Norman was “a tremendous athlete” who sought an end to discrimination.
“His courage to stand up for his fellow athletes so publicly is a reflection of this great Australian man’s character,” Ms King said.
“The role of Peter Norman in furthering racial equality will always be remembered – especially by those people across my community who knew him so well.”
The bill is expected to pass the lower house next week.