American hammer thrower, Gwen Berry, turned her back on the American flag at a medal ceremony at the U.S. Olympic trials on Saturday before eventually covering her face with a shirt, saying it was ‘disrespectful’ to play the national anthem after she won a bronze medal.
Berry qualified for the Olympics for the second time with a bronze medal performance over the weekend, but her National Anthem protest drew a lot of attention.
While the anthem played at the trials in Eugene, Oregon, DeAnna Price, and Brooke Andersen, gold and silver medalists, faced the flag with their right hands over their hearts. However, Berry shifted her feet, placed her left hand on her hip, and turned a quarter turn to face the stands rather than the flag. She then wrapped her black T-shirt with the words ‘Activist Athlete’ written on the front over her head toward the end.
“I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose, … I was pissed, to be honest,” Berry said.
“They had enough opportunities to play the national anthem before we got up there,” she said, according to The New York Post. “I was thinking about what I should do. Eventually I stayed there and I swayed, I put my shirt over my head. It was real disrespectful.”
“They said they were going to play it before we walked out, then they played it when we were out there,” Berry said. “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.”
Berry’s accusation that it was a setup was denied by a spokesperson for USA Track and Field.
“The national anthem was scheduled to play at 5:20 p.m. today. We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards. The national anthem is played every day according to a previously published schedule.” and on Saturday, the music started at 5:25 p.m.
Berry was previously sanctioned by the United States Olympic Committee for raising her fist during the national anthem at the Pan-American Games in 2019.