Hammer thrower Gwen Berry is facing controversy after she turned away from the U.S. flag as the national anthem played during the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, where she came in third and earned her spot at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday (June 26).
Berry addressed the controversy, as she explained that she was told that the national anthem would play before they walked out, not while they were on the podium. While first-place winner DeAnna Price and second-place finisher Brooke Andersen faced the flag with their hands on their hearts, Berry turned away from the flag and draped her black T-shirt, which had the words "Activist Athlete" emblazoned on the front, over her head.
When Berry heard the anthem being played while she was on the podium, she explained that it felt like a "set up" after what she was previously told, adding, "I was pissed, to be honest." Berry continued, "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 alright. I see what's up." She later concluded, "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 later shared photos of her on the podium along with the caption, "I said what I said... I meant what I said... STOP PLAYING WITH ME!! PERIOD!"
She also responded to the backlash on Twitter, writing, "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."