Plans to rename the Newport athletics track after Peter Norman have been opposed by the Williamstown Athletic Club.
Hobsons Bay council in December mooted renaming the track in honour of the late Williamstown sprinter, widely remembered for standing in solidarity with athletes giving the black power salute.
Mr Norman claimed silver at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics by running 200 metres in 20.06 seconds – still an Australian record.
But he is widely remembered for wearing an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in support of African American runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised their fists in silent protest on the medal dais – a moment captured in what Time magazine called the most iconic photograph of all time.
However, Williamstown Athletic Club members such as Grant McKay say they put up a proposal years ago to rename the track in honour of Graeme Morrish, QC, who died in 1993.
“We’ve been trying since at least 1993 to have the track named after Graeme, who did a lot of work in the area,” Mr McKay said.
“Without him, there wouldn’t be a track in the place.”
Past president David Jamieson said Mr Morrish used his legal skills to negotiate with the then Williamstown council and the State Electricity Commission to establish a track at the old Newport power station.
“The club’s position is that it’s opposed to naming it Peter Norman primarily because he was not a Williamstown athlete; he ran for East Melbourne Harriers.
“He was not involved at all in any of the work to establish the track and any of the facilities at the track.
“The person who was primarily responsible for making it happen – it just wouldn’t be there if he wasn’t involved through that 10-year period – was Graeme Morrish.”
The late Joan Kirner in 1996 wrote a letter supporting the renaming of the track in Mr Morrish’s honour, but the council at the time said its policy was to name the track after the location, not an individual.
Peter Norman’s wife Jan Norman said she understood if people wanted to name the track after Mr Morrish.
“I think that’s fine because Peter didn’t ever run on the track at Newport,” she said.
“I would hate to have people not happy. I’d rather he wasn’t giving his name to the track if some people didn’t want that to happen.”
Hobsons Bay councillors are expected to make a decision at the May 14 ordinary council meeting.