Olympic Thrower Who Turned Away From American Flag Pushes Back After Criticism

After qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics by finishing third in the US Olympic track and field trials on Saturday, hammer thrower Gwen Berry faced away from the American flag during the playing of the National Anthem.

Most people would predict tears of excitement after achieving such a milestone, but Berry went in a different direction.

Berry turned toward the spectators as the National Anthem played and, towards the ending, pulled up a black t-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” on the front to cover her head.

Rep. Mike Loychik wrote in response to Berry turning away, “If you won’t stand proudly for the anthem, you don’t deserve to stand for Team USA. Gwen Berry should be BANNED from the Olympics!”

Sports center reported, “She felt the timing of the anthem was ‘a set up.’

“I feel like it was setup,” Berry said. “I feel like they did that on purpose, and I was pissed, to be honest. I was thinking about what should I do. Eventually, I just stayed there and just swayed. I put my shirt over my head. It was real disrespectful. I know they did that on purpose, but it’ll be all right. I see what’s up.”

“It was funny because they said they were going to play it before we walked out,” Berry said according to The Washington Post. “It just happened they played it when we were out there. So, you know, it’s okay. I really don’t want to talk about the anthem because that’s not important. The anthem don’t speak for me. It never has.”

The decision has sparked anger, with some demanding for Berry’s removal from the Olympic team.

Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) stated on “Fox & Friends,” “We don’t need any more activist athletes. She should be removed from the team. The entire point of the Olympic team is to represent the United States of America. It’s the entire point.”

Berry has responded on social media.

“These comments really show that: 1.) people in American rally patriotism over basic morality 2.) Even after the murder of George Floyd and so many others; the commercials, statements, and phony sentiments regarding black lives were just a hoax,” Berry wrote.

The national anthem has been aired every day during the Olympic track and field trials for the last week. Unlike in the Olympics, the national song is not played when competitors collect their medals, although the hammer throwers received their medals at the same time as the national anthem was scheduled to be played.

“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.” USA Track and Field spokeswoman Susan Hazzard said.

Berry also thanked her fans in a tweet, saying that people were attempting to “put words in her mouth.”

“Thank you! I never said I hated this country! People try to put words in my mouth but they can’t. That’s why I speak out. I LOVE MY PEOPLE.” Berry wrote on Twitter.


Berry caused a stir in 2019 when she lifted her fist in the air while standing on the podium at the Pan-Am Games. The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee issued a formal reprimand and a 12-month suspension as a result of the action. The committee altered its mind on players protesting during the national anthem in April, permitting knees and raised fists.

The IOC will implement Rule 50 during the Tokyo Olympics, according to ESPN, which prohibits demonstrations inside the lines.

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