Gwen Berry turns away from the anthem at Olympic trials in the United States, saying it is “set up” | Tokyo Olympics 2020


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Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry said she was “set up” after turning away from the national anthem during Saturday night’s medal ceremony at the US Olympics.

The 31-year-old has a long history of activism and raised her fist when The Star-Spangled Banner ended when she won gold at the 2019 Pan American Games in Trump. The anthem started on Saturday when Berry was on the podium after finishing third in the tests. While the music played, Berry put her left hand on her hip and shuffled her feet. She made a turn so she was looking at the stands, not the flag. Towards the end of the hymn, she took her black T-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” on the front and hung it over her head.

Berry believes it wasn’t a coincidence that she was the focus of attention during the anthem. In contrast to the Olympic Games, the anthem does not accompany medal ceremonies at the US trials. But the hammer throwers received their awards shortly before the start of the evening session, which started all week with a video playback of The Star-Spangled Banner on the scoreboard. “I feel like it was a setup and they did it on purpose,” Berry said of the anthem timing. “I was mad to be honest.”

US track and field spokeswoman Susan Hazzard said that “the national anthem should be played at 5:20 pm. We didn’t wait for the athletes to be on the podium for the Hammer Throw Awards. The national anthem is played daily according to a previously published schedule. ”On Saturday the music started at 5:25 pm.

“They said they would play it before we went out and then they played it when we were out,” said Berry. “But I don’t really want to talk about the anthem because it doesn’t matter. The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has. “

Berry’s third place in the exams guarantees her a place in the Olympics and she has promised to use her position to raise awareness of social injustices in the United States. “My purpose and my mission are bigger than the sport,” she said. “I am here to represent those who have died of systemic racism. That’s the important part. That’s why I’m going. That’s why I’m here today. “

Berry’s gesture sparked virtually no reaction in the stands, and Saturday hammer trial winner DeAnna Price said she supported her teammate. “I think people should say what they want to say. I’m proud of her, ”Price said.

Berry said she had to “fix my body, fix my mind, and fix my mind” for the Olympics. The women’s hammer throw starts on August 1st in Tokyo. But she doesn’t think she has to be on the podium in Tokyo to make a difference. “I don’t have to do anything sporty,” she said. “What I have to do is speak for my community, represent my community, and help my community. Because that’s more important than sport. “

Berry’s demonstration at the 2019 Pan American Games resulted in a sanction, but ultimately urged the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committees to commit not to punish athletes who raise their fists or kneel in the exams or in Tokyo. It’s a potential hot spot for Tokyo, where the IOC has announced it will enforce Rule 50, which bans demonstrations at events. It’s the same ban that resulted in sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos being sent home from the Mexico City Games in 1968.

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