She barely made it onto the podium, but when she did, Gwen Barry, the 3rd place winner of the hammer throwing contest (who knew there was such a sport?), used her 15 seconds of fame to disrespect the American flag and our national anthem.
While the United States National Anthem played at the trials in Eugen, OR, the anti-American athlete representing the United States of America, turned her back on the American flag.
Near the end of the awards ceremony, the attention-seeking, anti-American athlete grabbed a black t-shirt with an “Activist Athlete” message displayed on the front hoisted it up for the crowd to see, and then draped it over her head.
Turning her back on the country she represents is nothing new to the hammer thrower. In 2019, Berry, the 3rd place winner in the competition, stood with her fist raised in the air at the end of the National Anthem at the Pan Am Games.
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) August 11, 2019
Although she was suspended by the USPOC in 2019 for her raised fist, she did it again on Thursday in the qualifying round:
Daily Mail reports – ‘I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose,’ said Berry, who finished third to make her second U.S. Olympic team and is an outspoken activist on racial justice issues. ‘I was pissed, to be honest.’
Berry has previously protested against racism during competition, most recently raising a fist at the trials on Thursday, and said that she felt insulted by the Star-Spangled Banner playing as she took the podium.
Olympic officials claimed that the playing of the United States National Anthem during the anti-American athlete’s award ceremony was only a coincidence.
‘They had enough opportunities to play the national anthem before we got up there,’ she said. ‘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.’
‘It really wasn’t a message. I didn’t really want to be up there. Like I said, it was a setup. I was hot, I was ready to take my pictures and get into some shade,’ added Berry.
‘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.’
USA Track and Field said the anthem was played once every day at the trials according to a published schedule.
Saturday’s schedule listed the time for the anthem as 5:20 pm, though it began at around 5:25 pm.
‘We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards,’ spokeswoman Susan Hazzard said in a statement. ‘The national anthem is played every day according to a previously published schedule.’
Berry was suspended for 12 months by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) for a raised fist at the 2019 Pan American Games but did so again before Thursday’s qualifying round.
And then, almost predictably, came the caving of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO, who was too afraid to stand up for the country they’re supposed to represent.
Last June, Berry demanded a letter of apology from USOPC for sanctioning her over her 2019 Pan American Games protest and then revised her demand to ask for a public apology from USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland.
Hirshland met the demand and issued a statement after meeting with Berry privately.
‘I am grateful to Gwen for her time and her honesty last night,’ Hirshland said in the statement.
‘I heard her. I apologized for how my decisions made her feel and also did my best to explain why I made them. Gwen has a powerful voice in this national conversation, and I am sure that together we can use the platform of Olympic and Paralympic sport to address and fight against systematic inequality and racism in our country.’