Gwen Berry turns away from US flag during national anthem at Olympic trials
- Gwen Berry claimed she was told that the anthem would be played before she took the podium
- She took a quarter turn so she was facing the stands not the flag
- Berry earned her spot on the Olympic team for the 2nd time
Olympic athlete Gwen Berry said she was set up after the National Anthem began playing during her medal ceremony in the US Olympic track and field trials on Saturday. While the song played, she was standing on the podium and took a quarter turn so she was facing the stands, not the flag, according US media reports.
Berry earned her spot on the Olympic team for the second time with a bronze medal for her performance over the weekend, but much of the attention was on her protest of the National Anthem. Berry said she felt like was a set-up and it was done on purpose, speaking of the timing of the anthem she said, "I was pissed, to be honest," reported Fox News.
However, gold and silver medalists DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson faced the flag with their right hand over the heart while berry faced away, towards the end, she picked up her black T-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” printed on the front and draped it over her head.
According to the New York Post, Berry said that there were enough opportunities to play the National anthem before she got up there. "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," she added.
Berry also claimed that she was told that the anthem would be played before she took the podium but it played when they were out there, she continued saying that she didn’t want to talk about the anthem because that wasn’t important.
"My purpose and my mission are bigger than sports, I'm here to represent those ... who died due to systemic racism. That's the important part. That's why I'm going. That's why I'm here today," Berry added.
However, a spokesperson for the USA Track and Field disputed Berry’s claim that it was a set-up. "The national anthem was scheduled to play at 5:20 p.m. today. For the past week, the national anthem played one time at night at the US track and field trials, on Saturday the music started at 5:25.
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," the spokesperson said.
Previously, Beery was sanctioned by the US Olympic committee after raising her fist during the national anthem at the 2019 Pan-Am Games.