An athlete participating in America’s Olympic trials has been on the receiving end of widespread backlash after she openly snubbed the National Anthem and the American flag on Sunday, as reported by the New York Post.
Gwen Berry, a black track and field athlete specializing in hammer-throwing, came third in the Olympic trials that day, and thus was on the stand with the second- and first-place finishers for the playing of the National Anthem. But instead of facing the flag, she turned away and pulled a black her shirt up over her head which read “Activist Athlete.”
Subsequently, criticism poured in on social media over Berry’s actions. Vic DeGrammont, a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives in Florida, tweeted that “if you can’t respect the flag or anthem then you shouldn’t be allowed to compete.” Former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker simply asked “what is wrong with people?”
Journalist David Steinberg, who famously uncovered many of the details behind the story of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar allegedly marrying her own brother, suggested that America should “send the fourth-place finisher” to the Olympics instead of Berry. “Gwen Berry has a world of options if she doesn’t want to compete under our flag. Not a penny of taxpayer money should fund her campaign to make Americans hate each other.”
But Berry doubled down on her actions, claiming without evidence that the playing of the National Anthem was deliberately scheduled for when she was on the podium. “I feel like it was a setup, and they did it on purpose. I was pissed, to be honest.”
“They had enough opportunities to play the National Anthem before we got up there,” she continued. “I was thinking about what I should do. Eventually I stood there and swayed, I put my shirt over my head. It was real disrespectful. I didn’t really want to be up there. Like I said, it was a setup.” She then proceeded to change her story and blame the heat, claiming that “I was hot, I was ready to take my pictures and get into some shade.”
In response to her absurd claim, commentator Josh Jordan tweeted that “yes, the US Olympics committee spend their time meticulously planning to make sure that the National Anthem was played at the exact moment she was on the podium…because everyone knows the Olympics is all about Gwen Berry.”
This is not the first incident in which Berry has displayed a form of political protest while on the field. During the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, after Berry came in first in the hammer throw, she raised the notorious black power fist at the end of the National Anthem. Subsequently, Berry was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee, placed on a 12-month probation, forbidden from displaying any further forms of protest, and lost numerous sponsorships.