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John Simkin

Tommie Smith

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The most significant event for me took place during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Tommie Smith won gold in the 200m by setting a new world record. His team mate, John Carlos, took bronze. Both men were black Americans and after a lifetime of racial discrimination, they decided to hit back. At the medal ceremony, as The Star-Spangled Banner played, Smith raised his right, black-gloved fist to represent black power, while Carlos's raised left fist represented black unity. Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who won the silver medal, wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in sympathy. Smith and Carlos were banned from the Olympic village and received countless death threats.

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The most significant event for me took place during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Tommie Smith won gold in the 200m by setting a new world record. His team mate, John Carlos, took bronze. Both men were black Americans and after a lifetime of racial discrimination, they decided to hit back. At the medal ceremony, as The Star-Spangled Banner played, Smith raised his right, black-gloved fist to represent black power, while Carlos's raised left fist represented black unity. Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who won the silver medal, wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in sympathy. Smith and Carlos were banned from the Olympic village and received countless death threats.

Sadly, Peter Norman passed away this week.

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article.../610050399/1065

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The most significant event for me took place during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Tommie Smith won gold in the 200m by setting a new world record. His team mate, John Carlos, took bronze. Both men were black Americans and after a lifetime of racial discrimination, they decided to hit back. At the medal ceremony, as The Star-Spangled Banner played, Smith raised his right, black-gloved fist to represent black power, while Carlos's raised left fist represented black unity. Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who won the silver medal, wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in sympathy. Smith and Carlos were banned from the Olympic village and received countless death threats.

Sadly, Peter Norman passed away this week.

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article.../610050399/1065

Thank you for posting that. I will add a biography of Norman to my Civil Rights section. I see Smith and Carlos will be pallbearers at his funeral today.

Norman was punished for his stand. When he arrived back home after the Olympics he was ostracised by the Australian media. Nor was he picked for the 1972 Olympics despite doing well in the Olympic trials.

Norman's time of 20.06 seconds at Mexico City is still the Australian 200m record after nearly 40 years.

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Libyans aim for Olympic medals

http://revolutionaryprogram.blogspot.com/2011/11/libyans-shoot-for-medal-at-london.html

Runner Mohamed Khawaja, 24,warms up at the start of a training session at Libya’s main track in the capital of Tripoli on Monday, Nov. 14, 2011. Khawaja, a 400-meter runner, won gold medalsat the 2009 Mediterranean Games. ( Karin Laub / Associated Press )

Libya aims for 2016medals after Gaddafi regime ‘tried to kill sports’

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/othersports/boxing-mma/emerging-from-dark-gadhafi-years-libyans-aim-for-first-olympic-medals-by-2016/2011/11/18/gIQAUvlqXN_story_1.html

By Washington Postsports editors

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2012-heavy-medal-london/post/libya-aims-for-2016-medals-after-gaddafi-regime-tried-to-kill-sports/2011/11/17/gIQA4PEOYN_blog.html

Libya never won anOlympic medal during the four-decade rule of Moammar Gaddafi — and that wasmostly by design, given the dictator’s apparent disdain for champions.

Now that the regimehas been toppled, Nabil Eleman, president of Libya’s Olympic committee, saidhe’s expecting the county’s new leaders, among them National TransitionalCouncil chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, a former football player, to investheavily in sports. Eleman is setting a goal of winning a medal in the 2016games as a goal for the country.

“There was nothingcalled sports in the days of Gaddafi,” 400-meter runner Mohamed Khawaja said.“They tried to kill sports. They had a committee to fight stars, not to letthem shine.”

Emerging from darkGadhafi years, Libyans aim for first Olympic medals by 2016

By AssociatedPress, Updated: Friday, November 18, 2011

TRIPOLI, Libya — Athletes and sports programs in Libya were woefully neglected during MoammarGadhafi’s four-decade rule. With Gadhafi’s regime toppled last month, Libya’s athletes and sports officials are hoping fora better future.

Oil-rich Libya has never won an Olympic medal and ranks nearthe bottom in sports competition with other Mediterranean countries that hadfar fewer resources, including neighboring Tunisia and Egypt.

“Sport, as a socialactivity, must be for the masses,” Gadhafi said in his treatise, “The GreenBook.”

“It is mere stupidityto leave its benefits to certain individuals and teams who monopolize themwhile the masses provide the facilities and pay the expenses for theestablishment of public sports.”

Nabil Eleman,president of Libya’s Olympic committee, said he’s expecting the country’s newleaders, among them National Transitional Council chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil,a former football player, to invest heavily in sports.

“Sports was not apriority” for Gadhafi, Eleman said in an interview. “We are very optimisticnow.”

Eleman is settinghis sights on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. There’s little chance Libyans will win medalsin the 2012 Games in London, in part because of the eight-month civil warthat ended with Gadhafi’s death on Oct. 20.

On a recent sunnyafternoon, several Olympic hopefuls met for the first time in months at Libya’s main track at a rundown sports center in thecapital of Tripoli.

Mohamed Khawaja wasstretching on the sidelines.

The 400-meterrunner won gold at the 2009 Mediterranean Games and the 2010 AfricanChampionships, but said Libya’s war and lack of funding prevented him fromparticipating in the 2011 World Championships in South Korea.

Still, the24-year-old’s personal best of 44.98 seconds is well within the 45.25-secondqualifying threshold for London. Asked whether he believes he has a shot at amedal, he said: “Nothing is impossible.”

Like other Libyans,he was bitter about the old regime.

“There was nothingcalled sports in the days of Gadhafi,” he said. “They tried to kill sports.They had a committee to fight stars, not to let them shine.”

Khawaja said hehopes Libya’s new leaders will be different.

“At the same time,they need to start (making changes) as quickly as possible because we have alot to catch up on ...” he said.

Discus thrower AliKhalifa’s spot on a Libyan Olympic team is less secure.

He threw 57 metersin training in Tunisia at the beginning of the year. However, hispersonal best in competition was 55.19 meters in 2010, way off the 63-meterOlympic minimum.

The burly28-year-old said he trained only sporadically during the war. “I was hidingfrom NATO,” Khalifa said of the alliance’s bombing raids against regime-linkedtargets during the civil war.

His part-timecoach, cafe owner Abdullah Jarhour, said Khalifa would now train twice a dayfor next month’s Pan Arab Games in the United Arab Emirates. On Monday, the first day of training, Jarhoursat on a white plastic chair at the edge of the track and counted as Khalifa,looking a bit stiff, did stretches, lunges and forward bends with weights.

Other Libyanshoping to qualify for the London Games have gone abroad to train, in partbecause the country lacks facilities. The ongoing political turmoil and thesocial obligations of a close-knit tribal society also tend to be distractions.

Those trainingabroad include a half-marathon runner in Morocco, three judo athletes in Algeria, a taekwondo competitor in the U.S. and a 50-meter freestyle swimmer in South Africa, Eleman said.

( Karin Laub /Associated Press ) - ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, NOV. 19-20 - In this phototaken Monday, Nov. 14, 2011, runner Mohamed Khawaja, 24, warms up at thestart of a training session at Libya’s main track in the capital of Tripoli.

Khawaja, a400-meter runner who won gold medals at the 2009 Mediterranean Games and the2010 African Championship, says the ousted regime of Moammar Gadhafi neglectedtop athletes. He and others now hope for a better future for sports in the new Libya.

Despite Gadhafi’sapparent disdain for champions, two of the dictator’s seven sons were closelyinvolved in sports, as part of the ruling clan’s policy of controlling Libya’s key institutions.

Gadhafi’s playboyson al-Saadi headed the Libyan Football Federation for much of the past decadeand owned Tripoli’s Al Ahli club. His terror-filled reign,including the trashing of rival Al Ahli Benghazi’s clubhouse and arrest ofdozens of the team’s fans and players in 2000, helped earn him a spot onInterpol’s most-wanted list for “armed intimidation.”

Al-Saadi, whoescaped to Niger during the civil war, also had ambitions as aplayer, using his money and influence to play in Libya and even, briefly, for the Italian league teamPerugia.

Like otherdictatorships in the Middle East, the Gadhafi regime tried to control footballbecause of its popularity and potential as an anti-regime rallying point, saidblogger James M. Dorsey.

“What made Libya different from others in the region was thefear that the players could become more popular than the Gadhafis, and al-Saadi’sinvolvement and ambition,” said Dorsey, who does research at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of InternationalStudies.

For example, Libyanbroadcasters could only refer to players by their numbers, with the exceptionof al-Saadi, to ensure a degree of anonymity, Dorsey said. Still, Libyanfootball has survived the regime and last month, the national team beat longodds to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Gadhafi’s eldestson, Mohammed, preceded Eleman as Olympic chief and fled to Algeria earlier this year with his stepmother,Gadhafi’s second wife, Safiya, as well as siblings Hannibal and Aisha.

Mohammed wasless-reviled than his notorious brothers and in recent years tried to get moneyfor sports, Eleman said. Still, as a Gadhafi son, he instilled fear andinsisted on special treatment, including monopolizing the gym in the trackcomplex whenever he decided to work out there.

In 2007, Libya built a National Olympic Academy to evaluatetop athletes and support their training, though its director, Haffed Gritly,now says he had to be careful at the time not to promote the Olympic idea toovigorously because the regime suppressed any movement seen as a potentialrival.

This also appliedto teams.

“Any team workmight be dangerous. People might start to think in the same manner,” Elemansaid of the regime’s thinking. That’s why individual sports, such as judo,bodybuilding and horseback riding have generally fared better in Libya.

Eleman said heplans to secure government funding for sports, including for buildinghigh-level training centers, adding that sports will be a key to rehabilitatingthousands wounded in the war.

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