Posted on June 28, 2021

Olympic Hammer Thrower Gwen Berry Turns Her Back on US Flag During National Anthem

Keith Griffith, Daily Mail, June 27, 2021

Hammer thrower Gwen Berry turned away from the American flag on Saturday while on the podium for a medal ceremony at the U.S. Olympic trials, saying it was ‘disrespectful’ to play the national anthem while she took a bronze medal.

While the anthem played at the trials in Eugene, Oregon, Berry placed her left hand on her hip and shuffled her feet. She took a quarter turn, so she was facing the stands, not the flag.

Toward the end, she plucked up her black T-shirt with the words ‘Activist Athlete’ emblazoned on the front, and draped it over her head.

‘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. {snip}

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.

‘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.’


‘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 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 as part of her quest for social change.

The USOPC in March reversed its stance and said that athletes competing in the U.S. Olympic trials can protest, including kneeling or raising a clenched fist on the podium or at the start line during the national anthem.


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 {snip}