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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tommie Smith Autobiography

Just released; NBC Sports discusses and provides us an excerpt. This is at the top of my wish list, and for several reasons.

The protest at left is all anyone wants to talk about when Smith's name comes up. And with good reason; it was an important thing. But there's plenty more to the man. For example, I wasn't aware that Smith and Carlos are no longer on speaking terms because Carlos maintains he let Smith win the 1968 Olympic 200 meters.

A decently-written biography of a great athlete is good enough all on its own. Smith was great by any measure. (For proof, see YouTube.) He was undoubtedly the best long sprinter in history until Michael Johnson came on the scene. However, with Smith there's the added story of the turbulent times, what happened to him before, during and after, and how he reacted to it.

The other guy in the picture? Peter Norman reached the finish line last October from a heart attack, age 64. His life story (a fascinating one on its own) was recently told in a film titled "Salute". HBO's documentary "Fists of Freedom" gives a broader view of the 1968 Olympics and the Olympic Project for Human Rights, but unfortunately it's never been released on video. Another view of the events are told in Lee Evans' biography, "The Last Protest". And in 2005, a sculpture honoring the three men was unveiled on the San Jose State campus.

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