Today's Birthday 15/6

Callum Godde
A Melbourne statue honours Olympic sprinter Peter Norman, who stood in protest with black athletes

Today's Birthday, June 15: Track athlete Peter Norman (1942 - 2006)

Australian sprinter Peter Norman's heroic stand on the Olympic dais is immortalised in bronze outside Melbourne's Albert Park athletics track.

Norman's silver-winning performance in the 200m at the 1968 Mexico Games was famously overshadowed during the medal ceremony.

He joined black Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos in an iconic silent protest as the pair raised their black-gloved fists to decry the treatment of African-Americans in the United States.

Norman wore a human rights badge to show his support for the duo, his dais position captured decades later in a bronze statue by sculptor Louis Laumen.

Born in 1942 in Melbourne, Norman grew up in a devoutly religious household. After graduating from high school, he taught physical education while also working as a butcher.

Norman started to train as a runner, competing in the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth and winning bronze at the 1966 Games in Kingston, Jamaica.

That year he became Australian 200m champion, holding the title until the 1970s.

Despite setting a national record in Mexico City with his time of 20.06 seconds, which still stands today and would have won him gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Norman was shunned by Australian athletics and Olympics officialdom after the salute.

While not officially sanctioned, Norman was not selected for the 1972 Games in Munich despite running several qualifying times and was not invited to the Sydney event.

In 1985 he suffered a serious Achilles tendon injury during a charity race and fell into depression and heavy drinking while confined to a wheelchair.

Later in life, Norman worked in senior roles at Sport and Recreation Victoria from 1998 to 2006 and helped organise the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

He died of a heart attack at 64 later that year.

A 2012 parliamentary apology for his treatment on his return from Mexico City included belated recognition for "the powerful role that Peter Norman played in furthering racial equality".

Unveiling his statue in 2019, Janita Norman said her father would have been proud to have been acknowledged in such a way.