From the Sydney Morning Herald’s Martin Flanagan.
The funeral service for Peter Norman ended with the theme music from Chariots of Fire and a scene no less dramatic than any in that famous film.
The two front pallbearers carrying Norman’s coffin from the Williamstown Town Hall were Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the two Americans with whom he shared the victory dais at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
The photograph of that moment was declared by LIFE magazine and Le Monde to be one of the 20 most influential images of the 20th century.
The Americans were shoeless and each raised a hand in a black power salute during the American national anthem. Norman, who had run second behind Smith, stood with them wearing the badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights.
Smith and Carlos were withdrawn from the relays and expelled from the Olympic Village. When they returned home, they were ostracised and had difficulty getting employment.
Yesterday Smith told Norman’s family: “Peter Norman’s legacy is a rock. Stand on that rock.”
Carlos spoke of the hatred they knew would be directed at them.
“Not every young white individual would have the gumption, the nerve, the backbone, to stand there,” he said. Carlos recounted the conversation they had before going out for the medal ceremony. They asked Norman if he believed in human rights. He said he did. They asked him if he believed in God. Norman, who came from a Salvation Army background, said he believed strongly in God.
“We knew that what we were going to do was far greater than any athletic feat. He said, ‘I’ll stand with you’.” Carlos said he expected to see fear in Norman’s eyes. He didn’t. “I saw love.”