The black power salute at the 1968 Mexico Olympics was an iconic moment in the US civil rights movement. What part did the white Australian who ran second play and what price did these athletes pay for standing up for their beliefs?

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The black power salute at the 1968 Mexico Olympics was an iconic moment in the US civil rights movement. What part did the white Australian who ran second play and what price did these athletes pay for standing up for their beliefs?

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The games we never saw...

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Documentary | Sport

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17 July 2008 (Australia)  »

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Salute: The Peter Norman Story  »

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AUD 2,000,000 (estimated)
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One of the Great Movies of the Year about One of the Greatest Races of All Time
22 July 2008 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

Matt Norman's moving documentary about his uncle's role in the infamous black power salute after the 200m final in the 1968 Mexico Olympics is compelling viewing. It is the best movie that I have seen in 2008 (and, yes, that includes The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia). Not only that, but I rate it as the best documentary that I have ever seen and possibly the best Australian movie I have seen.

The tragedy is that had it not been for the furore over the salute, this would have been remembered as one of the greatest races of all time. The Gold Medalist, Tommie Smith, smashed the world record. Peter Norman, the Silver Medalist, equalled the old world record in a time that 40 years later (2008) still stands as the Australian record - and amazingly would have won the GOLD MEDAL at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The Bronze Medallist, John Carlos, crossed the line only centimetres behind Norman after being caught only 5m from the line.

Smith and Carlos were sent home in disgrace by the USA Olympic Committee and their athletic careers were ruined. Norman was officially reprimanded by the Australian Olympic Committee - even though he didn't "salute" - and was overlooked for the 1972 Munich Olympics even though he had run the qualifying time many times and was ranked 5th in the world.

The movie shows the race quite a few times - a bonus for sports fans - but this movie is more about human rights than the race itself. It features extensive interviews with Smith, Norman and Carlos and shows a lot of footage from the 60s (warning: some of it is quite "grainy"). For sports fans and for those interested in the development of the human rights movement worldwide, but primarily in the USA, Australia and Mexico, Salute is compelling viewing.

A world class movie about a world class race and the unfortunate events that ensued.


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