Norman competed in three different sports - whitewater kayak slalom, flatwater kayaking, and rowing, earning distinction in each. He was a national team member in slalom at age 17 before switching to flatwater two years later and at the 1984 Olympic trials, his first-ever flatwater race, he qualified for the US Olympic team and then stroked the US four man kayak at the LA Olympics in the 1000 meter event.
Four years later came the highlight of his athletic career when he and partner Greg Barton were Olympic Champions in the flatwater kayak doubles 1,000 meter event.
Norman subsequently enrolled at Harvard University, earning a varsity letter in heavyweight rowing by winning the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges Championship and then placed second at Henley in the Thames Cup competition.
After that, he took another shot at the kayaking Olympics, placing 4th in both the singles 500 meters and the doubles 1,000 meters. His training partner, whom Norman unselfishly coached, won the 500, thus costing Norman a medal.
Norman ultimately graduated from Harvard with an honors BA in economics and later returned to earn an MBA.
He has contributed greatly to the USOC on several occasions. From 1993 to 1996, while working there, he improved programs that support athletes and National Governing Bodies. He created and directed the $4.5 million Hometeam ‘96 Program that maximized the US Team’s medal performance at the Atlanta Games. He also helped design and implement a system that more closely tied financial support to athletic performance, a system the USOC still uses today.
From 1993-2001, Norman was co-chairman of the Athletes’ Advisory Council, vice chair from 2000 to 2001, and from 1997-2001, he was a member of the USOC board of directors and executive committee.
From 2006 to 2011, he was the USOC’s Chief Operating Officer and assisted in day-to-day operations as well as the development and implementation of the USOC’s strategic plan. He also oversaw the development of a new state-of-the-art headquarters that the USOC opened in April 2010.
In summarizing his Olympics career, USOC Chairman, Larry Probst, said that Norman Bellingham “truly embodies the Olympic spirit and its values."