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Cartoonist Mark Knight explains why he linked swimmer Mack Horton’s protest to Neil Armstrong’s historic moment

Mark Knight, July 25, 2019 6:50PM Herald Sun

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How we saw the incident on TV. Silver medallist Mack Horton (left) refuses to stand on the podium with gold medallist China's Sun Yang (centre) and bronze medallist Italy's Gabriele Detti after the final of the men's 400m freestyle event. Picture: AFP media_cameraHow we saw the incident on TV. Silver medallist Mack Horton (left) refuses to stand on the podium with gold medallist China's Sun Yang (centre) and bronze medallist Italy's Gabriele Detti after the final of the men's 400m freestyle event. Picture: AFP

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media_cameraMark Knight’s cartoon on swimmer Mack Horton refusing to stand on podium with alleged drug cheat Sun Yang from China.

Being an editorial cartoonist, my work is not always on politics.

With Australia being a nation which loves its sport, I sometimes turn my attention to big moments that happen in the sporting world.

One such occasion this week came during the men’s 400m freestyle medal ceremony at the World Swimming Championships where Australian silver medallist Mack Horton refused to stand on the podium* beside the Chinese winner Sun Yang.

Horton believed Sun was not a “drug free” competitor after failing a drug test years ago and being banned. He also had a recent run-in* with drug testers after the glass vials* holding his blood samples were smashed by a member of his team.
Horton had won the Olympic gold medal in Rio in 2016 in the 400m, but Sun has won four world championships in this event.

This week, Horton decided to make his own private protest about drugs in sport by not stepping up onto the podium to stand beside Sun.

His protest made world headlines.

Sun Yang, Mack Horton, Gabriele Detti media_cameraI can’t even look at you …. Mack Horton looks away as gold medallist Sun Yang from China, centre, and bronze medalist Italy’s Gabriele Detti show off their medals. Picture: AP

People likened it to the black rights protest at the 1968 Mexico Olympics when two African American athletes raised their black-gloved fists in the air on the winners’ podium in protest over civil rights and the way blacks and whites were treated differently in the US.

China was furious at this week’s incident while Australians and many other athletes supported Horton’s anti-drug protest.

Others said it was sour grapes* because he lost.

Mack Horton refuses to stand alongside convicted doper Sun Yang

When deciding to draw a cartoon about the issue, the thing that stood out for me was how such a simple gesture* meant so much. Horton stood with his silver medal around his neck but by simply refusing to step up onto the platform, he was making a huge statement about the use of drugs in sport.

And that’s when I thought back to only a few days before when we were celebrating 50 years since the first moon landing and astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous words, “One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind”.

For a person to take one step is nothing much. But in the right setting one step can have a big impact. Whether that step is onto the moon’s surface for the first time or refusing to step onto a medallist’s podium.

I drew the scene as we saw it on TV, with the Australian swimmer standing behind the podium, looking at it, and saying “One small step for a man”. The cartoon is inferring* that by not taking that step what was to come was a giant leap into controversy* regarding drugs in sport and how we deal with it.

GLOSSARY

  • podium: winner’s platform for 1st, 2nd and 3rd placegetters
  • run-in: disagreement
  • vials: small container made of glass
  • sour grapes: adopting a negative attitude when something doesn’t go your way
  • gesture: signal
  • inferring: working something out from evidence or facts
  • controversy: public disagreement about something

EXTRA READING
Mark Knight: what the moon landing and Trump have in common


QUICK QUIZ
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LISTEN TO THIS STORY
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CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Caption it!
Cartoonists such as Mark Knight are so skilled they can convey a lot of complex information in one or a series of drawings without the need for many or any words.

However, Mark’s cartoon was drawn with an adult audience in mind and he knows that most people who look at it will also have read and watched a lot of news stories about both the moon landing anniversary and the incident at the world swimming titles. People look at his cartoon with the help of a lot of background knowledge.

Read Mark’s explanation of what the cartoon means again and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.

Using your sentences to help you, write a caption for the cartoon or some thought bubbles or quotes from the people in the cartoon that will make Mark’s meaning clearer for children or people who haven’t been reading the news this week.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about.

Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

1. What is my subject?

2. What do I want to say about this issue?

3. How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else.), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking


VCOP ACTIVITY
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many wow words or ambitious pieces of vocabulary that you can find in yellow. Discuss the meanings of these words and see if you can use them orally in another sentence.


WHAT’S YOUR OPINION? Do you agree with Mack Horton’s decision to refuse to stand with Sun Yang on the podium? What message — good or bad — do you think it sends?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

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