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Athletics at the 1968 Ciudad de México Summer Games:

Men's 200 metres

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Host City: Ciudad de México, Mexico
Venue(s): University Olympic Stadium, Ciudad de México
Date Started: October 15, 1968
Date Finished: October 16, 1968

Gold: USA Tommie Smith
Silver: AUS Peter Norman
Bronze: USA John Carlos

Summary

Coming into the year, Tommie Smith was considered the best 200 runner but John Carlos had won the Olympic Trials in an unratified world record of 19.7/19.92 – it was not accepted because his shoes had too many spikes. Smith had won the AAU in 1967-68, while Carlos was 1967 Pan American Champion. In the semi-final, Smith pulled an adductor muscle and ran the final with his thigh wrapped. Carlos came off the turn 1½ metres in the lead but Smith then accelerated, turning on what he called his “Tommie Jets” and powered past the field to win with almost a 2½ metre lead despite closing it down in the last 10 metres, still running a world record 19.83. Carlos slowed near the end after Smith passed him and the gold medal was gone, and was passed on the run-in by Australia's Peter Norman.

Smith and Carlos almost did not compete in the Olympics. African-Americans, they considered joining a black boycott of the Olympics that was being organized by San José State professor Harry Edwards. But they elected to make their own protest instead. On the victory podium, they mounted it barefoot, wearing civil rights badges, and as The Star-Spangled Banner played, they lowered their heads and raised a single, black-gloved fist. The IOC was irate at this political protest during the Olympics, and the US Olympic Committee expelled them from the team. Peter Norman joined them in the protest by also wearing the civil rights badge. Vilified by the American and international media, Smith and Carlos have since become heroes to the cause of American civil rights, and human rights in general. They also never forgot Norman, and when he died in 2006, they served as pallbearers at his funeral. In 2008 Smith and Carlos received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs, presented by ESPN. Carlos has made some noise in recent years, claiming he let Tommie Smith win the gold medal in 1968, but those who saw the race have no doubt as to Smith's dominance.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Tommie Smith 24 United States USA Gold WR
2 Peter Norman 26 Australia AUS Silver
3 John Carlos 23 United States USA Bronze
4 Edwin Roberts 27 Trinidad and Tobago TTO
5 Roger Bambuck 22 France FRA
6 Larry Questad 25 United States USA
7 Mike Fray 21 Jamaica JAM
8 Jochen Eigenherr 21 West Germany FRG
5 h1 r3/4 Iván Moreno 26 Chile CHI
5 h2 r3/4 Greg Lewis 21 Australia AUS
6 h1 r3/4 Dick Steane 29 Great Britain GBR
6 h2 r3/4 Edward Romanowski 24 Poland POL
7 h1 r3/4 Nikolay Ivanov 26 Soviet Union URS
7 h2 r3/4 Ralph Banthorpe 19 Great Britain GBR
8 h1 r3/4 Fernando Acevedo 22 Peru PER
8 h2 r3/4 Mani Jegathesan 24 Malaysia MAS
5 h1 r2/4 Julius Sang 22 Kenya KEN
5 h2 r2/4 Charles Asati 22 Kenya KEN
5 h3 r2/4 David Ejoke 28 Nigeria NGR
5 h4 r2/4 James Addy 28 Ghana GHA
6 h1 r2/4 Jacques Carette 21 France FRA
6 h2 r2/4 Livio Berruti 29 Italy ITA
6 h3 r2/4 Andrés Calonge 23 Argentina ARG
6 h4 r2/4 Valentin Maslakov 23 Soviet Union URS
7 h1 r2/4 Edwin Johnson 18 Bahamas BAH
7 h2 r2/4 Winston Short 23 Trinidad and Tobago TTO
7 h3 r2/4 Hansruedi Wiedmer 23 Switzerland SUI
7 h4 r2/4 Pedro Grajales 28 Colombia COL
8 h1 r2/4 Harry Jerome 28 Canada CAN
8 h2 r2/4 Rajalingam Gunaratnam 26 Malaysia MAS
8 h3 r2/4 Miguel Angel González 24 Mexico MEX
8 h4 r2/4 Bernard Nottage 24 Bahamas BAH
5 h3 r1/4 Jean-Louis Ravelomanantsoa 25 Madagascar MAD
5 h4 r1/4 Philippe Housiaux 20 Belgium BEL
5 h6 r1/4 Alberto Torres 34 Dominican Republic DOM
5 h7 r1/4 Gert Metz 26 West Germany FRG
6 h1 r1/4 Norman Chihota 21 Tanzania TAN
6 h3 r1/4 Norris Stubbs 19 Bahamas BAH
6 h4 r1/4 Porfirio Veras 25 Dominican Republic DOM
6 h5 r1/4 William Dralu 21 Uganda UGA
6 h6 r1/4 José Astacio 21 El Salvador ESA
6 h7 r1/4 Carl Plaskett 25 United States Virgin Islands ISV
7 h1 r1/4 Canagasabai Kunalan 25 Singapore SIN
7 h2 r1/4 Kun Min-Mu 26 Chinese Taipei TPE
7 h3 r1/4 Morgan Gesmalla Sudan SUD
7 h4 r1/4 Juan Argüello 21 Nicaragua NCA
7 h5 r1/4 Colin Thurton 25 Belize BIZ
7 h7 r1/4 Cristóbal Corrales 21 Honduras HON
8 h1 r1/4 Hadley Hinds 22 Barbados BAR
AC h6 r1/4 Juan Franceschi 19 Puerto Rico PUR