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Monday, 28 July 2008


Everyone knows the iconic photo of the two African-American athletes on the winner’s podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics raising their fists in a black power salute. The third (white) man on that podium was an Australian sprinter, Peter Norman, and this documentary, made by Peter’s nephew Matt Norman, tells his story.

Salute is an engaging and well-paced mix of history lesson (vital to explain the racially charged atmosphere surrounding the Men’s 200 metre sprint finals), sports drama, and personal history. Peter himself retells much of the story, and while the many interviews with the two other runners, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, are occasionally of rough quality (they were initially done as background material for a dramatization), the power and humour of what they say comes through clearly.

It’s soon obvious that a): Peter was very much part of the protest alongside Smith and Carlos; and b): everyone on that podium paid a heavy toll career-wise for speaking out. Peter (who died in 2006) never ran for Australia again, despite holding the 200 metre Commonwealth record to this day. This film is a fitting tribute to his life.

Anthony Morris