Hammer Thrower Gwen Berry Protests National Anthem At Olympic Trials Podium

Protest At The Podium: Hammer Thrower Gwen Berry Waves ‘Activist Athlete’ Shirt And Turns Her Back On The Flag During National Anthem

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#BlackGirlMagic is the real winner at the Olympic trials!

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Source: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / Getty

Hammer Thrower Gwen Berry knows what it takes to make it to the Olympics. She competed in the 2016 Olympic Games, broke the decade-old world record in the 20-pound Weight Throw competition at the USATF championships in 2017, and is the 2019 Pan American Games Champion. Berry has dedicated her familiar position on the winner’s podium to activism and protesting injustice, earning probation for a raised fist in 2019. At Saturday’s Olympic trials, she was on the podium for a bronze medal in the hammer throw when to Berry’s surprise, the national anthem started playing.

When the music played after Berry received her medal, she felt slighted after double-checking that the anthem was scheduled to play before she entered the field. The Associated Press reports that while her fellow competitors quietly faced the flag, Berry turned away and waved her own in the form of a black T-shirt that simply says “Activist Athlete.”

“They said they were going to play it before we walked out, then they played it when we were out there,” Berry said after the ceremony. “But I don’t really want to talk about the anthem because that’s not important. The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has.”

A native of Florrisant, MO, Berry knows the importance of activism first-hand after her community was under siege by police for protesting the killing of Mike Brown in neighboring Ferguson. Although she is proud to compete in Tokyo, “activist athlete” speaks to Berry’s priorities for the upcoming Olympics. “I don’t need to do anything sport-wise,” she said. “What I need to do is speak for my community, to represent my community, and to help my community. Because that’s more important than sports.”

Berry will be representing the U.S. at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics among other trailblazing baddies like Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, and Sha’Carri Richardson starting July 23.

Will you be cheering them on?

 

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