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Athlete on black power podium dies

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SYDNEY, Australia -- Peter Norman, who shared the victory podium while American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos made their famous"'black power salute" at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, has died aged 64.

The Australian, who won the silver medal in the 200 meters, wore a human rights badge in support of the two Americans who were protesting against racial discrimination.

"To be involved in a very small way in history like that, it lives with you forever," Norman said. "It's a bond."

Norman's time of 20.06 seconds remains the Australia record. He died from a heart attack after recently undergoing a triple bypass.

Gold medallist Smith and Carlos both wore a black glove and bowed their heads on the podium while the U.S. national anthem was played.

The protest caused outrage in the Olympic movement, particularly in the US, and Smith and Carlos were immediately sent home from the Games.

But Norman was only cautioned by the Australian chef de mission and allowed to remain in Mexico City.

"I was happy to identify with (Smith) and the principles he believed in," Norman said later of the incident.

"I didn't get off nearly as bad as the other guys did. People don't realize that for those two guys they sacrificed their lives for a cause they believed in. And it was peaceful and non-violent.

"Every emotion turned loose on them, there was vocal retaliation."

Norman, who won five successive Australian 200 meters titles from 1966-70, said he had kept in touch with Smith and Carlos over the years, but had lost the badge Carlos had given him.

The Australian Olympic Committee paid tribute to Norman's belief in social justice and the longevity of his national 200m record.

"Peter was clearly an athlete to whom social justice was important," AOC president John Coates said in a statement.

"He was still our fastest 200-meter runner which is a remarkable feat (almost) 40 years later."


Norman (left) shares the podium with Smith (center) and Carlos.

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