Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry turns her back on US flag during national anthem and says, “It was ‘disrespectful’ and ‘a setup’ to play the song while she took bronze at trials.”
‘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. ‘I was pissed, to be honest.’
Gwendolyn Berry raises her Activist Athlete T-Shirt over her head during the metal ceremony after the finals of the women’s hammer throw at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials
Toward the end of the anthem, Berry plucked up her black T-shirt with the words ‘Activist Athlete’ emblazoned on the front, and draped it over her head.
‘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 every day at the trials according to a published schedule.
‘We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards,’ spokeswoman Susan Hazzard said in a statement. ‘We’re thrilled with the women’s hammer throw team that selected themselves for the Games.’