The Stand – How One Gesture Shook the World
, the latest athletics film from Tom Ratcliffe, passionately details one of history’s most iconic and enduring sporting moments: the 200m medal podium protest by US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games. And on many levels, its retelling, more than five decades later, couldn’t be more timely. 

As one of the seminal moments in sports history, the image is a familiar one. But the broader story behind it was not. That’s a hole in the record that Ratcliffe and co-director Becky Paige wanted to fill.

You certainly know the scene. With a massive global platform that only an Olympic Games can provide, Smith and Carlos, the freshly-minted gold and bronze medallists, chose to use their victory stand moment of glory to protest the racial inequality that was ripping their country apart by pointing their black-gloved hands towards the sky. It was a protest the likes of which had never been witnessed on an international sporting stage – not before, and not since.

Just hours after their medal-winning performances – Smith broke the world record with a stunning 19.83 run – the pair walked solemnly towards the medal podium, each carrying a shoe behind their back, with just black socks covering their feet. As the national anthem began to play, each athlete bowed his head and raised a single black-gloved fist, Smith his right, Carlos his left. At just 24 and 23, respectively, Smith and Carlos became the subjects of the indelible image of a salute that would come to symbolise an era, inspire every generation since and one that would define, in times both bad and good, the rest of their lives.

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